First female referee to officiate in the Premier League, Rebecca Welch, to be inducted into the National Football Museum Hall of Fame

Rebecca Welch, the first ever female referee to officiate a Premier League game will be entering the National Football Museum’s Hall of Fame.

Welch is to be inducted for her exceptional story and ground-breaking achievements in the world of football.  She has already broken down huge barriers for women in football and is paving the way for generations to come.

Upon the news, Rebecca said:  “It’s quite overwhelming, I was very honoured to be asked. My journey started 13 years ago and now here I am having refereed in one of the biggest leagues in the world, being inducted to the Hall of Fame alongside legends of the game, it doesn’t feel real to me. It’s great for young boys and young girls to see female representation at the top of the game because it makes them believe that they can be there as well.”

Welch’s refereeing journey began in 2010 when she balanced the role alongside her job in the NHS, before taking the plunge into full time refereeing in 2019.

Welch has officiated many high-profile matches throughout her career, most notably the 2017 and 2020 Women’s FA Cup finals at Wembley, as well as being part of the officiating team taking charge of the third-place play-off match at the Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand in 2023.

Welch began refereeing in the men’s game at Sunday League level before swiftly moving through the ranks to the National League, prior to becoming the first woman to be appointed to referee an EFL match when she took charge of the League Two game between Harrogate Town and Port Vale in 2021.

On 23rd December 2023, Welch made history when she became the first woman to referee a Premier League match – Fulham v Burnley at Craven Cottage, receiving immediate praise from fellow Hall of Famer Vincent Kompany.

Welch is part of PGMOL’s Development Group which identifies talented officials and enables them to dedicate even more time to their officiating. So far this season, the support of the Development Group has seen Welch take on her first Premier League match, as well as Kirsty Dowle and Emily Carney making their EFL debuts.

Tim Desmond, CEO of the National Football Museum said: “Rebecca’s achievements in football are nothing short of outstanding. Reaching the pinnacle of refereeing in the women’s game officiating at multiple World Cups as well as becoming the first female to officiate the Premier League. Rebecca’s achievements take bravery and extreme dedication to her craft.

Rebecca Welch
Credit: Photo by Javier Garcia

“She’s a shining example for women looking to make a career in refereeing, the wider footballing world and beyond and we are delighted to announce she will be inducted into the National Football Museum Hall of Fame.”

As the world celebrates International Women’s Day, the National Football Museum reaffirms its commitment to promoting diversity, equality and inclusivity in the world of football and beyond.

In 2019, the National Football Museum relaunched the Hall of Fame with a commitment to achieve 50% female representation across the game.

Welch will join a plethora of inductees who have championed women in football, Kerry Davis, Jill Scott and Alex Scott to name a few. The announcement comes on International Women’s Day with the full induction to take place later this year.

You can find the full list here: