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Rebecca Welch becomes first female referee in Premier League

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(Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Rebecca Welch made history on Saturday as she became the first female to referee an English Premier League match.

She oversaw Burnley’s 2-0 win over Fulham. Burnley manager Vincent Kompany called it a “milestone moment” for the league.

“I wanted to congratulate her because it’s a big moment,” he said of speaking to her after the game. “It’s fair to say that it’s a milestone moment, and may there be more, and the best thing will always be when someone is judged on merit.

“But you have to have a first, and this is it. So, well-done [to her], and I’m happy to be part of this moment.”

Welch is no stranger to making history as a referee. She made history in 2022 when she refereed an FA Cup match and a second-tier Championship match in 2021. She’s also a member of FIFA’s international match officials, having refereed at the Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand this summer.

“We have not seen a female take charge of a Premier League game ever before,” referees’ chief Howard Webb told BBC Sport. “We have some really talented officials in the men’s and women’s game. Rebecca is leading that.

“She went to the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. She has been exposed to some big games and is a really good model for women and girls to think refereeing is for them when previously they didn’t.”