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‘Milestone moment’: Rebecca Welch becomes first female referee in English Premier League, handles Fulham-Burnley clash

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The English Premier League has its first female referee and Burnley manager Vincent Kompany called it a “milestone moment” on Saturday. Rebecca Welch controlled Burnley’s 2-0 win at Fulham. Kompany spoke to Welch at fulltime.

English referee Rebecca Welch speaks with Burnley's English midfielder #08 Josh Brownhill (L) during the English Premier League football match (AFP)
English referee Rebecca Welch speaks with Burnley’s English midfielder #08 Josh Brownhill (L) during the English Premier League football match (AFP)

“I wanted to congratulate her because it’s a big moment,” he said. “It’s fair to say that it’s a milestone moment and may there be more, and the best thing will always be when someone is judged on merit. “But you have to have a first and this is it, so well done (to her) and I’m happy to be part of this moment.”

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Welch was applauded by spectators as she emerged from the tunnel at Craven Cottage. She previously made history when she refereed an FA Cup fixture in 2022 and a second-tier Championship match in 2021. Welch has already worked as a fourth official in the Premier League in November.

Welch has been a referee since 2010, initially balancing the role with her job in the National Health Service before becoming a full-time match official.

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