Premier League to debut first female ref, Rebecca Welch

December 15 – Rebecca Welch will make history when she becomes the first female referee to take charge of a Premier League match on December 23 when Fulham take on Burnley.

Welch has already worked as the fourth official in the Premier League, for the match between Fulham and Manchester United on November 4, and she was the first woman to referee matches in the second-tier Championship and FA Cup. She has been a referee since 2010 and is a regular in the Women’s Super League.

Other countries have been using female referees for years. In Germany Bibiana Steinhaus was the first woman to referee a Bundesliga game in 2017.

French referee Stéphanie Frappart became the first woman to take charge of a men’s World Cup game when she handled Germany vs. Costa Rica in November last year, having previously handled games in the Champions League and in the French league since 2019.

The Premier League also said Sam Allison will become the first black official to take charge of a match for 15 years when he referees Sheffield United vs. Luton on December 26. Uriah Rennie officiated in the Premier League for 11 years until 2008.

Howard Webb, current chief refereeing officer of the PGMOL, the top refereeing body in England, said both Welch and Allison deserved their chance.

“We have not seen a female take charge of a Premier League game before so it’s significant, and Sam being the first black official with a whistle in the Premier League since Uriah Rennie. It demonstrates people can make it through the pathway from groups that are not traditionally well represented,” said Webb.

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