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Welch emerges first English premier league’s female refree

Rebecca Welch became the first woman to referee an English Premier League football match when she oversaw Burnley’s 2-0 win away to Fulham at Craven Cottage on Saturday.

Welch, a 40-year-old from Washington in northeast England, was working for the National Health Service when she began her refereeing career in 2010.

She rose through the officiating ranks and, in 2021, became the first woman appointed to referee a match in the English Football League when she took charge of the fourth-tier fixture between Harrogate and Port Vale.

She was also the first female official to referee matches in the Championship and third round of the FA Cup.

She had little to do early on during a slow start to proceedings in London on Saturday before Welch’s decision to not award a Vitinho handball frustrated Fulham.

She remained unmoved by players’ reactions when making her rulings and was happy to play advantage for both sides whenever possible in a match where long-range strikes from Wilson Odobert and Sander Berge gave Burnley their first win since December 2.

She booked Calvin Bassey after 25 minutes for striking Josh Brownhill. The Fulham defender refused to walk towards Welch when signalled by her on three occasions but eventually approached the referee and was cautioned.

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