Rebecca Welch becomes first female referee appointed to EFL match

Welch officiated men's matches in National League and women's FA Cup final in 2017

File photo dated 01-11-2020 of Referee Rebecca Welch during the Women's FA Cup Final at Wembley Stadium, London. Issue date: Tuesday March 30, 2021. PA Photo. Rebecca Welch is the first female referee to be appointed to take charge of an English Football League game as she is set to officiate the League Two game between Harrogate and Port Vale on Easter Monday. See PA story SOCCER EFL Referee. Photo credit should read Adam Davy/PA Wire.
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Rebecca Welch has become the first female referee appointed to an English Football League match. She is all set to take charge of the League Two game between Harrogate Town and Port Vale next week, the EFL said on Tuesday.

Welch has previously officiated men's matches in the National League as well as elite women's games such as the FA Cup final in 2017, but on Monday she will set a new benchmark for female referees in English football.

Although Amy Fearn was the first woman to referee an EFL game as a second-half replacement for injured referee Tony Bates in a Championship match in 2010, Welch is the first to get an official appointment.

"It shows that there is a real opportunity to young girls who are wondering if to they are to take the whistle or are already referees they can aspire to be an EFL referee or like Sian Massey-Ellis operating in the Premier League," Welch said on the EFL website.

"I'm really proud of it because my journey as a referee I started with not really having any aspirations to be doing things like this interview."

It was yet another positive development of female officials in the sport. Earlier, referee Stephanie Frappart made history as the first woman to take charge of a men's World Cup qualifier as the Netherlands beat Latvia 2-0 in front of 5,000 fans.

In December, France's Frappart became the first woman to take charge of a men's Champions League match, between Juventus and Dynamo Kiev.

The 37-year-old was also the first woman to referee in the French top flight, the lead official for the 2019 Uefa Super Cup final between Liverpool and Chelsea, and made her Europa League debut in October.