Sian Massey-Ellis made history again on Thursday evening, when she became the first English female to officiate in a men’s European fixture.
The assistant referee joined referee Chris Kavanagh, fellow assistant Dan Cook and fourth official Peter Bankes for the UEFA Europa League game between PSV Eindhoven and Linzer ASK.
Taking place at the Philips Stadium, home of Dutch outfit PSV, it was a group stage clash with Austrian club Linzer which was screened live on BT Sport in the UK.
“It was really exciting when I found out,” said Sian, regarding her latest appointment.
“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!FIND A REFEREEING COURSE NEAR YOU
“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.
“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.
“I don’t think you could have wiped the smile off my face when I found out for a few days, but we all know that there’s an important job to do when the whistle goes.”
It’s the latest in a string of achievements for the Coventry-based official, who also became the first female to officiate at the Community Shield earlier this year after previously being selected for the FIFA Women’s World Cup, U20 World Cup, UEFA Women’s EURO and UEFA Women’s Champions League Final in recent years.
That’s all on top of her career in the Premier League, WSL and EFL, and even though she’s now a vastly experienced official, she admits the buzz remains ahead of the big game.
“I’ve had great support from PGMOL and The FA, from the likes of Mike Mullarkey and Mike Riley to name just two,” added Sian, who was awarded an MBE in 2016.
“Their trust in putting me on games is something I’m hugely grateful for.
“As the game gets closer it’s a mixture of nerves and excitement, but because I’m with the team of officials that I work with regularly in the Premier League, it kind of feels normal – it gives you the confidence to go out there and do your job.”
Everyone has to start somewhere, so if Sian’s achievements have inspired you to get involved in refereeing, find out how to kick-off your refereeing career with one of our courses.