Rebecca Welch to become the first woman to referee a Premier League game

Rebecca Welch reacts during a match
Rebecca Welch reacts during the Vitality Women's FA Cup Final match between Everton Women and Manchester City Women at Wembley Stadium on November 01, 2020 (Photo by Adam Davy - Pool/Getty Images)

On Saturday December 23rd, Rebecca Welch will officiate the men’s fixture between Fulham and Burnley, making her the first female in history to referee a Premier League fixture.

Sam Allison will become the Premier League’s first black referee for 15 years just a few days later.

Football at the highest level is ever-evolving. It has become evident that change is needed across the sport, and PGMOL have been open about their aim to make officiating more diverse and inclusive.

Welch, 40, is no stranger to paving the way for women as match officials. She is an experienced referee, and has a wealth of history-making experience. Back in January this year, Welch refereed a men’s Championship match. She was the first woman to do so.

Initially working as a referee in 2010, Welch has since overseen high profile fixtures such as the 2017 and 2020 Women’s FA Cup Finals. She also played her part in the groundbreaking 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

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Welch was additionally the first woman to oversee an EFL match. This was in 2021, when she was added to the national group list for men’s football following her 2019 decision to leave her job in the NHS and begin officiating full-time.

More recently, in November, Welch was the first female to step into the role of fourth official in the Premier League, which she did for Manchester United’s game against Fulham.

Welch is well-known and appears frequently as an appointed referee in the Women’s Super League. Many on social media have welcomed important and necessary developments like this one in the top-flight of English football.

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