Premier League to have its first female referee when Rebecca Welch handles game on Dec. 23

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Rebecca Welch will become the first female referee in the Premier League when she takes charge of the match between Fulham and Burnley on Dec. 23, the competition said Thursday.

Welch has already worked as the fourth official in the Premier League, for the match between Fulham and Manchester United on Nov. 4, and she was the first woman to referee matches in the second-tier Championship and FA Cup.

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

The Premier League also said Sam Allison will become the first Black official to take charge of a match for 15 years when he referees Sheffield United vs. Luton on Dec. 26. Uriah Rennie officiated in the Premier League for 11 years until 2008.

Reporting by The Associated Press.

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