Rebecca Welch becomes first female referee in English Football League match

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Rebecca Welch became the first female referee appointed to take charge of an English Football League game this week. She was in charge of Port Vale’s 2-0 win against Harrogate Town, a match in the third-tier of English men’s soccer.

“It was a shock,” said Welch when asked about her appointment. “I was on my way back from a game and I got a phone call from Mike Jones (PGMOL National Group Director) and my initial response was ‘oh, what’ve I done!’ But I’m really excited and this what I’ve been working towards and to be given this opportunity to work in the EFL is amazing for me. 

“This is the biggest achievement of my career. I’ve refereed at Wembley in the 2017 women’s FA Cup Final, which will always be a top highlight. But it’s good to achieve things and refereeing in the EFL on Monday will be the greatest so far.”

As she noted in her comment, Welch has refereed big games in the past so she’s no stranger to the spotlight. In 2010, she also made history when she became the first woman to referee an EFL game, though that happened as a result of the originally appointed official getting injured.

This is the latest example of women breaking into the ranks of the higher levels of men’s soccer matches as referees. French referee Stephanie Frappart became the first woman to referee a men’s Champion’s League match in December.

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