Tori Penso and Rebecca Welch among 21 referees chosen for Paris Olympics this summer

Tori Penso and Rebecca Welch are among the 21 referees who have been chosen to officiate football matches at the Paris Olympics this summer.

Penso, 38, became the first woman to referee a regular season Major League Soccer match in 20 years back in 2020.

The American referee also took charge of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup final in Australia, later going on to officiate the opening match of the 2023 men’s World Cup in Saudi Arabia.

Welch, 40, became the Premier League’s first female referee when she took charge of Fulham’s 2-0 defeat to Burnley on December 23. She has been refereeing since 2010 and became the first woman to officiate a match in the men’s Championship at the start of 2023.

Welch told The Athletic in 2021: “My gender has never held me back in refereeing. There’s never been a point where I’ve come away from a game feeling that they have treated me a certain way because I’m female. They might treat me a certain way because I’m a referee and they don’t agree with a decision but I’ve not come under that scrutiny.

“I know other people who have. Ninety-eight per cent of people won’t bat an eyelid when a woman turns up to referee their game, but there’s another two per cent who will. In years to come, there won’t be that exposure around it. That sounds negative, but it’s really not. It will just be the norm.”

David Coote, 41, has been named as one of the video assistant referees for the tournaments while American Brooke Mayo and Englishwoman Emily Carney have both been listed as assistant referees.

89 officials have been announced in total — 21 referees, 42 assistant referees, 20 video match officials and six support referees — from 45 different countries.

The women’s tournament will begin on July 25 with the gold medal match being held at Parc des Princes in Paris on August 10. The men’s competition will begin on July 24 with the gold medal match taking place at the same stadium on August 9.



Rebecca Welch on breaking down barriers, making history and Premier League dreams

(Ulrik Pedersen/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)

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