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Rebecca Welch becomes first female to referee an English Premier League game

Rebecca Welch made EPL history Saturday.Alastair Grant/Associated Press

LONDON — 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.

“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.”


Welch was applauded by spectators as she emerged from the tunnel at Craven Cottage. She made her first big intervention when brandishing a yellow card to Calvin Bassey late in the first half after the defender struck Josh Brownhill with his hand.

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.

Burnley scored long-range goals through Wilson Odobert and Sander Berge for its third win.

Next-to-last Burnley stayed in the relegation zone but moved to within three points of safety.

It was mid-table Fulham’s second straight league loss, with those defeats coming either side of a quarterfinal win over Everton in the English League Cup.