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  • Writer's pictureAmy Kate - The Red Way

History Made Once Again - First English Woman to Officiate in a Men's European Football Match

We are starting to see a trend forming here in men’s football as women are finally infiltrating the refereeing circuit. Back in August, history was made for the first time as France's Stephanie Frappart officiated the Super Cup in Istanbul's Vodaphone Park. Last Thursday, October 24th, 2019, another female referee made history once again. England’s Sian Massey-Ellis is the first female to officiate a UEFA Europa League fixture. The match took place at Philips Stadium in Eindhoven, Netherlands, the home of Philips Sport Vereniging, also known as PSV Eindhoven. PSV hosted the Austrian Club, Linzer ASK which ended in a 0-0 draw.

Sian said, “It was really exciting when I found out,”

“And I was obviously chuffed for Chris Kavanagh as well. In fact, when the appointment first came out, we tried to ring each other at the exact same moment and we both got each other’s answerphone!”

This isn’t Massey-Ellis‘s first big appointment. The Coventry based referee has several achievements under her belt since her first appointment in 2009 which’s includes being selected for FIFA Women’s U17 World Cup, U20 World Cup, UEFA Women’s Euro, UEFA Women’s Champions League Final, FIFA Women’s World Cup as well as the first female to officiate the Community Shield that took place at Wembley on August 4, 2019, between 6 time #EuropeanChampions, Liverpool FC and 2018-19 #PremierLeague winners, Manchester City. The game ended in 1-1 draws so there was a penalty shot out. Manchester City came out on top, winning the cup with 5-6 result.

“It’s a big achievement for me personally, it’s been a dream of mine to officiate in European competition and I’m delighted to be able to tick it off.”

“I think that it’s definitely becoming more normal to see female officials in the men’s game.”

“Stéphanie Frappart refereeing the Europa Super Cup was a big moment, ultimately it shouldn’t matter what gender, race or religion anyone is, it’s about going out there and doing your job as best you can,” said Sian.

She caught my eye again a few weeks ago when I realized she was the lineswoman in the match between #LiverpoolFC and #LeicesterCity on October 5, 2019. It was a hard-fought game that ended with #Milner converting a spot-kick deep into stoppage-time at #Anfield securing a 2-1 win and Liverpool clinching another three points.

You may recall seeing her back in 2011. It was only her second #PremierLeague match as an assistant referee. Liverpool FC played Wolverhampton Wanderers away, beating them 3-0 on their own turf. On that day, January 22, 2011, a sexism controversy flared up over derogatory comments made about Massey-Ellis by staff members at Sky Sports which ultimately led to the presenter, Richard Keys, and commentator, Andy Gray being sacked before being forced publicity to apologize to Sian.

Outside of her impressive refereeing career, the 34 year is a school teacher and also holds the title of MBE which she received in 2016. I look forward to seeing much more of her and other females working alongside their male counterparts in the football circuit. This is a positive step in the sport so many of us love.

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