Premier League ‘behind’ Europe and could be decade away from female referee


The Premier League could still be a decade away from assigning its first female referee, according to Referees’ Association chairman Paul Field.

Stephanie Frappart made history on Wednesday by becoming the first female referee to take charge of a men’s Champions League game, while female referees have been employed in the Bundesliga and Ligue 1.

But Field believes the domestic game will continue to pay the price for lagging behind the continent when it came to embracing women’s football, meaning female refereeing talent is still stuck in the system.

Frappart refereed Leicester in the Europa League last month
Frappart refereed Leicester in the Europa League last month

Field told the PA news agency: “Somebody like Stephanie is a true role model and it’s fantastic to see what she is doing.

“But let’s face it, the evolution of the women’s game is this country is five or 10 years behind the rest of Europe.

“If we follow the same trajectory, it means we won’t get a female match official (in the Premier League) for another 10 years, because the whole thing has got to catch up.”

West Bromwich Albion v Brentford – Carabao Cup – Third Round – The Hawthorns
West Bromwich Albion v Brentford – Carabao Cup – Third Round – The Hawthorns

Sian Massey was the first female official to feature in a Premier League match as an assistant in Sunderland’s game against Blackpool in 2010.

Field added: “We’ve had some fantastic role models ourselves with the likes of Sian, Natalie Aspinall and Jane Simms who have officiated at a high level.

“But I can’t see many more coming up the promotion ladder. And I think this is all a direct consequence of the football authorities, 10 or 15 years ago, not taking the women’s game seriously at all.”

History maker. Last night, Stéphanie Frappart became the first woman to referee a men's #UCL match.

— UEFA (@UEFA) December 3, 2020

The 36-year-old Frappart officiated Juventus’ 3-0 win over Dynamo Kiev in Turin, handing out three yellow cards as Juve won comfortably with Cristiano Ronaldo scoring his 750th career goal.

Frappart was already the first female referee for a major UEFA competition match when Liverpool beat Chelsea on penalties in the Super Cup in Istanbul last year.

She was part of an all-female officiating team with assistants Manuela Nicolosi from Italy and Ireland’s Michelle O’Neill.

Frappart was also in charge for Leicester’s 3-0 Europa League win over Zorya Luhansk in October and the Women’s World Cup final between the United States and Holland in 2019.

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