English Premier League’s First Woman Referee to Debut Today

First Woman Referee: Rebecca Welch will make history today, 23 December 2023, as she will become the first woman to take charge of an English Premier League football match when Fulham faces Burnley.

Welch started her career in 2010 as a part-time official, along with working for the National Health Service (NHS), before becoming a full-time official.

She has previously officiated in the Championship (English 2nd division) and FA Cup fixtures.

Born in Washington Town, Sunderland, she started officiating after being challenged by a friend because she always used to criticize the job.

Welch gained her badges with the Durham County Football Association and then began taking charge of university games and in Sunday Leagues.

Promoted to UEFA’s elite women’s list in December 2020, she has also refereed in the Women’s World Cup in 2023, in two Women’s FA Cup finals, and in UEFA Euro 2022 (one of three English officials at the games last summer).

Manchester City boss, Pep Guardiola, praised the move: “It’s an excellent idea. It’s more than welcome. Hopefully, in the future, there can be more (female referees in the Premier League).”

Newcastle United head coach, Eddie How, said: “I think it’s a great moment. For me, it’s got to be based on ability, not gender, ability to referee and I fully support it.”

History will be made as Rebecca Welch is set to become the first women’s referee in a Premier League match. She will be in charge of the Fulham versus Burnley tie which will be played on 23 December 2023. 

“When people ask us why would you want to be a referee, I pose the question back and say why wouldn’t you want to be a referee? 

Rebecca Welch, set to become the first women’s referee in a Premier League match

Welch has become a record-breaker in English football. She refereed a Championship match between Preston North and Birmingham City in January making her the first woman to do so. In November she reached another milestone as she was the first female fourth official in a Premier League match involving Manchester United and Fulham. 

The 40-year-old is well known for her officiating in the League Cup, she took charge of her first match in the EFL in 2021. As records show, Welch has been steadily working her way up to the top ranks of officiating. 

When it comes to women’s soccer Welch can be seen as a regular, she has refereed games in the Women’s Super League (WSL) and was also part of the FIFA Women’s World Cup held in Australia and New Zealand. She was also in charge of the 2017 and 2020 Women’s FA Cup finals.

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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