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The Roar


EPL set to break ground as first female referee picked for Boxing Day clash

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14th December, 2023

Rebecca Welch is to become the first female referee to officiate in a Premier League match when she takes charge of Fulham’s home game against Burnley on December 23.

The Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) confirmed the appointment on Thursday, while also saying that Sam Allison would become the first Black official to take charge of a Premier match for 15 years.

Allison will be the referee for Sheffield United against Luton Town on Boxing Day.

Welch has been a trailblazer for female referees and last month was the fourth official for Fulham against Manchester United in the Premier League, the first female to fulfil that role.

The 40-year-old, a regular in the Women’s Super League, has previously officiated in the Football League and the FA Cup and was on duty at the women’s World Cup this year.

Welch has been a referee since 2010, initially balancing the role with her job in the National Health Service before becoming a full-time match official.

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


Steinhaus is married to Howard Webb, who is the current chief refereeing officer of the top refereeing body in England.

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

The PGMOL has made greater diversity one of its aims and Allison will become the first Black referee in the Premier League since the retirement of Uriah Rennie in 2009.