Women good enough to be in football and not as a ‘tick box’ says Prem ref Massey-Ellis

    SIAN MASSEY-ELLIS has brushed off suggestions that women are “out of their depth in the world of football”. 

    And the Premier League assistant ref opened up on fears of her career on the pitch ending early after giving birth to her first child. 

    Sian Massey-Ellis says the "perception" that women don't understand the offside rule is always there

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    Sian Massey-Ellis says the “perception” that women don’t understand the offside rule is always thereCredit: Getty Images – Getty

    Massey-Ellis was speaking to the Prem’s web site about negative stereotypes she encountered over the course of her 11-year stint as an assistant referee.

    And her reflections come months after a Women in Football survey found that 66 per cent of women working in the sport experienced sexism, but only 12 per cent of incidents were reported. 

    Massey-Ellis, 35, said: “The challenge of the perception that we don’t know what we’re doing – it’s always been there. 

    “It’s always been, ‘Women don’t know the offside rule. Women don’t know what football’s about so they shouldn’t be involved.’

    “That’s the stereotype I would want to challenge: That we are good enough to be there and if we’re there, we’re not there as a tick-box. 

    “For me, I’ve come through exactly the same pathway and exactly the same tests and challenges as male referees.” 

    Massey-Ellis has been working in the top tier of men’s football since December 2010. 

    And the Coventry-born P.E. teacher made football history when she became the first English woman to officiate in a men’s match in Europe in October 2019.

    Massey-Ellis took charge of a Europa League clash between PSV Eindhoven and Austrian club Linzer ASK alongside referee Chris Kavanagh, fellow assistant  Dan Cook and fourth official Peter Bankes.

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    Massey-Ellis says women are not in football just to tick a box

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    Massey-Ellis says women are not in football just to tick a boxCredit: Paul Marriott – The Sun

    And the former WSL ref, whose husband Robert also works as a match official, defied her doctor’s orders to return to action after giving birth to daughter Harriet in 2016. 

    Massey-Ellis added: “Coming back from having a baby was really difficult. 

    “The doctors told me I wouldn’t be able to return to refereeing, that I wouldn’t be able to do the fitness work again.

    “It was probably the biggest moment in my life where I actually thought, ‘Oh my goodness, I don’t know if I’ve lost my career.’ “

    “They (the FA and The Professional Game Match Officials) gave me the opportunity to come back step by step. 

    “I did go back through the leagues again and that was what I needed, that support.”

    Massey-Ellis, who refereed a Women’s Premier League Cup final game between Leeds and Everton in 2010, is encouraging more women and girls to get into match officiating.

    And the school tutor says this is a goal she wants to pursue when she eventually retires.

    Massey-Ellis wants to see more women take up refereeing in the game

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    Massey-Ellis wants to see more women take up refereeing in the gameCredit: Getty Images – Getty

    Massey-Ellis added: “I want to be able to support other referees coming through. 

    “I always say that once I’ve finished my career I want to be making sure we’ve got the next generation of referees and sportswomen coming through.

    “It’s really important we create an atmosphere where they feel safe, an environment where they feel safe.

    “When I said, ‘Can I be a referee?’ That shouldn’t be a question any other female has to ask any more.”

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