Female referees: Numbers up in English football by 72% since 2016

Former Yeovil Town player Stacey Pearson is one of England’s Fifa referees

The number of female referees in English football has increased by 72% since 2016, the Football Association has revealed.

There are now 2,146 women refereeing across all levels of the sport.

In the Women’s Super League, 63% of games this season were officiated by a woman, up 20% over four seasons.

The FA also found that 98.3% of decisions in WSL matches in 2019-20 were correct, according to a new match official evaluation system.

“We needed to treat refereeing in the women’s game as different to the men’s,” said the FA’s women’s professional game refereeing manager, Joanna Stimpson.

“The game is played differently, the players behave differently and the environment is different.

“The creation of the newly-created ‘women’s game referee pathway’ is a game changer for our long-term progress.

“Our work over the past four seasons has built strong foundations and I believe there’s never been a better time to be a referee, especially a female referee.”

In August it was revealed that WSL referees would be assessed for the first time, undergoing the same analysis used on men’s Premier League referees.

The scheme gave officials access to match footage, to provide forensic video analysis of every decision.

Some officials have received criticism during the 2019-20 campaign, with Wales international Natasha Harding saying in February “the level of officiating hasn’t grown/developed with us and our game”.

Video assistant referees [VAR] are not used in any major domestic women’s competition around the world.

There are now four female referees and five assistant referees from the English game on Fifa’s list of match officials.