Two teenagers arrested for ‘misogynistic chanting’ towards referee Rebecca Welch

Welch made Premier League history last month when she was the fourth official in Manchester United’s win over Fulham

Jamie Braidwood
Sunday 26 November 2023 10:05 GMT
Related video: Rebecca Welch to be first woman appointed referee for EFL game

Two teenage fans were arrested during Birmingham’s home match with Sheffield Wednesday for alleged misogynistic chanting towards referee Rebecca Welch, West Midlands Police said.

Welch made made history in January when she became the first woman to officiate a Championship match after she took charge of Birmingham’s clash with Preston and broke further ground when she was the fourth official in Manchester United’s win over Fulham in the Premier League last month.

The 39-year-old was in charge of Birmingham’s 2-1 win over Wednesday, which earned new manager Wayne Rooney his maiden victory in charge of the club, but the match was overshadowed by news of two 17-year-olds being arrested for alleged chants towards the referee.

A statement from West Midlands Police read: “We have arrested two boys for misogynistic chanting at the female referee during Birmingham City’s home game at St Andrew’s today,”

“Our officers heard the chants being directed at the official and acted quickly to arrest the two, who are both 17.

“They are currently in custody on suspicion of a public order offence as we carry out enquiries. We don’t tolerate any form of hate and it is important hate crime is reported to us.

“Today is White Ribbon Day which is the start of a 16-day long campaign. It focuses on everyone, especially men and boys on what they can do to change the behaviour and culture that leads to abuse and violence against women and girls.”

Birmingham warned supporters on Friday about their behaviour towards match officials.

A statement ahead of the Sheffield Wednesday fixture highlighted how Welch faced “sexist and misogynistic” chants during her previous match at St Andrew’s against Preston and the club reminded supporters that a five-year ban could be issued for discriminatory or hate speech.

“Prior to Saturday’s Sky Bet Championship fixture with Sheffield Wednesday, a statement was issued on encouraging supporters to be respectful towards the match officials,” a Birmingham statement read.

“The Football Club are, therefore, deeply disappointed that two supporters were overheard by West Midlands Police officers engaging in misogynistic chanting towards today’s referee and are currently in custody on suspicion of a public order offence.

“Birmingham City strongly condemns all forms of discrimination and will support the police with their enquiries.”

Additional reporting by PA

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