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Rebecca Welch: Referee makes history with EFL debut


The 37-year-old, who has previously refereed top women’s matches, oversaw Port Vale’s 2-0 win over Harrogate Town in the third tier of English men’s football.

In 2010, Amy Fearn became the first woman to referee an EFL match after replacing the injured referee in the final stages of a match, but Welch is the first to be officially nominated for a match.

“At first I wasn’t really aware that I was named the first referee,” Welch said before taking charge of the game.

“I just got the date and I was over the moon, but when you think about it you think you are the first woman to do this, so I am extremely proud and my family is also extremely proud.

Welch is an elite umpire who has frequently umpired lower league men’s games in the past. She also refereed the Women’s FA Cup final at Wembley in 2017.

She now hopes her story serves as an inspiration and motivation for other official women who will rise through the ranks.

“I think it’s important to show that women who are in the top 1% of their category can take it to the next level, so it definitely inspires others to look up and know that they can achieve the same. thing, ”she added, citing Sian Massey-Ellis who is currently the only official woman operating in the Premier League.

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Although Monday was seen as a first step in breaking down barriers in English football, some reactions on social media show that there is still a long way to go.

While officials from both teams credited Welch for his performance, Twitter users saw it as an opportunity to post sexist posts.

“We couldn’t pass up this opportunity without showing you how triggered it is by certain guys,” the women’s football podcast tweeted. Two girls talk about bullets in reaction to messages. “It’s good to see the immense power of having a living vagina!”
In December last year, French referee Stephanie Frappart made history by becoming the first woman to referee a men’s UEFA Champions League match.

This is not, however, the first high-level men’s match that Frappart has taken charge of. She became the first female referee to referee a European men’s grand final when she took charge of the UEFA Super Cup final between Liverpool and Chelsea in 2019.

Just a month before that, Frappart took over the Women’s World Cup final between the United States and the Netherlands in France.

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