Breaking Barriers: Women Referees Making History in Professional Football Leagues

2023-12-16 12:44:00

Mentalities are changing, lines are starting to shift. The year 2022 saw Stéphanie Frappart become the first woman to officiate as the main referee in the World Cup, three years after her debut in Ligue 1. The year 2023 saw Viki De Cremer become the second woman to manage a match as the fourth official in Belgian professional football, 18 years after Binchoise Claudine Brohet. Now it’s the turn of the Premier League.

In a week, Rebecca Welch will become the first woman to referee an English elite match: the duel between Timothy Castagne’s Fulham and Vincent Kompany’s Burnley. Aged 40, Rebecca Welch had already become the first woman to referee a professional football match in England in 2021 by whistling a D4 match. Last month, she also became the first female fourth referee in the Premier League, during the match between Fulham and Manchester United.

“I want to bring diversity to Premier League refereeing,” said Howard Webb, the head of English refereeing who decided to mark the occasion at the end of the year. Three days after Welch, Sam Allison will become the first colored referee to officiate since 2008, in the Boxing Day match between Luton Town and Sheffield United on December 26.

”Hopefully there will be more in the future. Everyone is more involved,” rejoiced Pep Guardiola, Manchester City coach, followed by his colleagues from Arsenal and Chelsea. “The diversity we have is positive for the league,” slipped Mikel Arteta. “I am so happy to see a woman referee,” added Mauricio Pochettino who had already known Stéphanie Frappart when he was at PSG. We need to open our minds and make sure people care about quality.”

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