Rebecca Welch became the first female referee in Premier League history this afternoon as she took charge of the 3pm clash between Fulham and Burnley at Craven Cottage.

The 40-year-old from Washington, Tyne and Wear, was also the first female to referee a match in the EFL in a League Two Match between Harrogate and Port Vale two years ago.

She then became the first woman to referee a match in the Championship in January, as well as the first female to act as a fourth official in the Premier League last month.

She started her career as a football referee in 2010, combining it with her NHS job, before becoming a full-time referee in 2019.

After taking her first course at Durham County FA she rose through the ranks of university matches and Sunday League.

Now, 13 years later, she considers her run out at Wembley for the Women’s FA Cup Final as the highlight of her career so far.

Earlier in the week Howard Webb, head of refereeing at PGMOL, said: ‘’We have not seen a female take charge of a Premier League ever before.

‘’We have some really talented officials in the men’s and women’s game.

‘’Rebecca is leading that.’’

He added: ‘‘[She is] a really good role model for women and girls to think refereeing is for them when previously they didn’t.’’

In July, the Football Association launched a new diversity strategy titled ‘To Grow, Guide and Govern’.

It outlined their commitment to a 50% increase in referees from ‘historically under-represented’ communities and a 50% increase in female referees by 2026.

Mark Bullingham, the FA’s Chief Executive, said: ‘’Referees are the lifeblood of our game.

‘’The strategy outlines our targets and positive action programmes that will further diversify the referee and match official community.’’

Featured image courtesy of Peter Glaser on Unsplash. No changes were made to this image. License details found here

By Emilie Mwanza

Founder of Beyond The 90. Trainee multimedia journalist based in Preston.