Sian Massey-Ellis to become the first female to officiate a men's European fixture

  • Kat Lucas

Sian Massey-Ellis is on the brink of making new history as she prepares to become the first female to officiate in a men’s European fixture. 

The Premier League assistant referee will run the line during tonight’s Europa League game between PSV Eindhoven and Linzer ASK at the Philips Stadion. 

Massey-Ellis will be joined by Chris Kavanagh, as well as assistant Dan Cook and fourth official Peter Bankes. 

“It was really exciting when I found out,” said Sian, via the FA website.

“And I was obviously chuffed for [referee] 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!

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

A timeline of female officials 

August 1994/95: Wendy Toms becomes the first woman to be included on the list of Football League assistant referees. 

1995: Toms also becomes the first woman to officiate in the English top flight. Gordon Strachan courts controversy by slamming it as a “PC decision”, adding: “It does not matter if they are ladies, men or Alsatian dogs.”

2011: Pundits Richard Keys and Andy Gray leave Sky Sports for making sexist remarks about Massey for an offside call. She had it spot on. 

2018: By this stage, there are only four female referees who only work in the Women’s Super League. The rest also officiate in men’s football in some capacity. 

April 2019 – Stéphanie Frappart takes charge of a European top-flight game in the Ligue 1 fixture between Amiens and Strasbourg. 

August 2019: Massey-Ellis becomes the first woman to officiate in the Community Shield between Premier League runners-up and champions Manchester City. 

August 2019: Frappart takes charge of the UEFA Super Cup between Liverpool and Chelsea. Frank Lampard calls it a “historic moment” and Jurgen Klopp adds that “it is time”. 

Ahead of her latest milestone, Massey-Ellis gave a nod to those who have gone before her, including Frappart – arguably the most high-profile female referee around after taking charge of the Women’s World Cup final. 

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

“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.”

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