Rebecca Welch will become the first female referee to officiate a third-round match in this season’s FA Cup after it was confirmed that she will be the first female referee to officiate a third-round match.
Who is Rebecca Welch?
Welch, 38, is a former NHS executive who began refereeing in 2010 and became the first woman to oversee a Football League match this year when she officiated Harrogate Town vs. Port Vale in League Two.
Welch will now shatter even more barriers as the FA announced that the official from Washington, Tyne, and Wear, will referee one of the 32 games available in the Cup’s third round next month.
On Thursday, FA announced in a statement: ‘Rebecca Welch will become the first woman referee in a game at this stage of the competition as she takes charge of the tie between Birmingham City and Plymouth Argyle at St Andrews,’ the FA announced in a statement on Thursday.
The 38-year-old has officiated the Women’s FA Cup finals in 2017 and 2020, as well as Women’s Super League fixtures. Since 2018-19, she has officiated many National League games and is a member of UEFA’s elite women’s list of officials.
Welch’s first game in the men’s professional ranks went off without a hitch, with Port Vale defeating Harrogate 2-0. Over 90 minutes, only two players were booked, including Connor Hall for dissent on a probable penalty.
Weaver Review on Welch
Despite losing the game, Harrogate manager Simon Weaver praised Welch’s efforts as a referee. ‘I think she was very good indeed,’ said Weaver. ‘Important calls were made throughout and they were the right calls.
‘Hopefully, it’s just par for the course that we see female referees and officials in the EFL. It’s about time.’
Welch told The Telegraph earlier this year that refereeing at a professional level was never her goal.
‘It’s a bit surreal because I never wanted to be a ref, that was never the plan,’ she said. ‘If somebody had said “in 11 years, you’ll be on the list for EFL referees”, I’d probably have just laughed at them.’
‘It’s a role people look at and think “why would you want to be a referee?” but the rewards you get out of it, it’s completely changed me as a person, it’s completely changed my life, for the better.
‘It’s kind of gone in a whirlwind. I’ve enjoyed it.’