15 December 2023

Rebecca Welch appointment hailed as ‘great moment’ by Eddie Howe

15 December 2023

Rebecca Welch’s historic appointment to officiate a Premier League match has been welcomed by Newcastle boss Eddie Howe.

The 40-year-old Welch will become the first female referee in top-flight history when she takes charge of the Fulham v Burnley match on December 23.

Welch was also fourth official for the Cottagers’ home game against Manchester United last month.

Howe applauded the decision to appoint Welch, who is from Washington in Tyne and Wear, and said: “I think it’s a great moment.

“For me, it’s got to be based on ability, not gender, ability to referee and I fully support it.”

His Manchester City counterpart Pep Guardiola said: “It’s an excellent idea. It’s more than welcome. Hopefully in the future there can be more (female referees in the Premier League).”

Mauricio Pochettino pointed to the example set in France by Stephanie Frappart, who has officiated in Ligue 1, the Champions League and in 2022 became the first female referee to officiate at a men’s World Cup.

The Chelsea boss said: “I am really happy, because when we were in France with Paris St Germain, I have seen in France Stephanie is already a referee and she was really, really good. And why not? If the capacity is there, the capacity is there.

“I am so happy, so happy to see that because sometimes people say in football, people are so closed.”

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta described Welch’s appointment as “great news” and added: “I wish Rebecca all the best in this new experience. I think it’s going to be really positive.

“What women’s football has done and the diversity that we have is incredibly positive for the league and it’s something that was needed.”

Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson said he hoped Welch would be a “trailblazer”.

I think it's a great moment. For me, it's got to be based on ability, not gender, ability to referee and I fully support it

“We’ve seen enormous strides forward and I welcome those strides,” he said.

Sam Allison will become the first black man to referee a top-flight match in 15 years when he takes charge of the Sheffield United v Luton game on Boxing Day.

Kick It Out also welcomed the news of Welch and Allison’s appointments.

Referees up and down the land are waking up this morning and thinking there are no barriers to get to the top,” the anti-discrimination charity posted on X.

“Visibility matters. Well done to @FA_PGMOL and organisations like @BAMERef for helping to create those journeys. There are many more inspirational stories to be told.”

BAMREF, a group offering guidance, support, mentoring and counselling to black, Asian and mixed heritage referees, also welcomed the news regarding Allison.

“Sam’s appointment is another significant step in the right direction towards refereeing reflecting society and the playing contingent within football,” a group statement read.

“It is a culmination of years of hard work by BAMREF members and we hope to continue our work further with both the FA and PGMOL leadership to identify and progress more officials from black, Asian and mixed heritage communities.”

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