Welch becomes first female referee in English Premier League

The 40-year-old was working for the National Health Service when she began her refereeing career in 2010

By AFP

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English referee Rebecca Welch during the English Premier League match between Fulham and Burnley on Saturday. Photo: AFP
English referee Rebecca Welch during the English Premier League match between Fulham and Burnley on Saturday. Photo: AFP

Published: Sat 23 Dec 2023, 8:47 PM

Rebecca Welch became the first woman to referee an English Premier League football match when she blew the whistle on Fulham's game against Burnley at Craven Cottage on Saturday.

Welch, a 40-year-old from Washington in northeast England, was working for the National Health Service when she began her refereeing career in 2010.

She rose through the officiating ranks and, in 2021, became the first woman appointed to referee a match in the English Football League when she took charge of the fourth-tier fixture between Harrogate and Port Vale.

Welch was also the first female official to referee matches in the Championship and third round of the FA Cup.

Last month she became the first woman to act as fourth official in a Premier League game as part of the officiating team for Fulham's match against Manchester United.

Welch has also taken charge of several high-profile women's fixtures, including games at the 2023 Women's World Cup.

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