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Published 07 March 2022 4 min read

Female referees 'breaking the bias'

Written by:

Nicholas Veevers

On International Women's Day 2022, we hear from two referees who have been making their own strides in English football...

Tuesday 8 March 2022 is International Women's Day, with this year's theme being about how to #BreakTheBias.

And as we celebrate this year, hear from two female referees who have come through the England Football ranks and #BreakTheBias in their own way.

Find out how Amy Purser, 21, juggles studying for a masters degree in physiotherapy while also climbing the refereeing ladder in both the men's and women's game.

And we also hear how Emma Guest (pictured above), a 35-year-old mother of two, began refereeing following a bet while watching Match of the Day and has since taken charge of a game at Wembley Stadium.

You can learn more about International Women's Day 2022 and how to imagine a gender-equal world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination.


Emma Guest
I started refereeing after a bet! I was watching Match of the Day with a family member and having a bit of a disagreement on a game and they said: ‘I bet you couldn’t do any better’, so I went on the course to see if I actually could.
I was the only female on my course but I was not fazed because I really wanted to succeed and be part of the beautiful game. After eight evenings and an exam, I was ready to officiate my first game.
I did my first ever men’s game on the local park. I was the first female to ever officiate in that league and that was the game I realised refereeing was for me. This is now season number eleven and the rest is history.
I’ve had so many amazing opportunities over the years. I refereed at Wembley Stadium in August in the BT Sport Pub Cup, I did the launch of FIFA 20 in London, I have been to Selhurst Park, Stamford Bridge, the Valley, to name a few, and in the last couple of weeks I did a tournament for the Alan Shearer Foundation, which was hosted by True Geordie, called the Twitch Rivals Tournament. 
There are not many referees at grassroots level who have had the chance to referee at Wembley. It was just unbelievable. 
Amy Purser
There's a joke in our house that I could kick a football before I could walk.
When I got to the age of 16 and my parents started to say I need to earn my own money and all that jazz, I was still in school and loving football so I didn’t want to get into a job which took up all of my weekends, so refereeing was actually the sensible decision for me and one my dad suggested. So I qualified as a referee when I was 16 and the rest is history.
Initially, it was a way of getting some cash and it paid more than the minimum wage. But I got to a point where I was really enjoying it, doing really well with it and I decided I wanted to pursue it as far as I possibly could, and I am now at the point where I'm a promotion away from being involved with the PGMOL and the FA Women’s Championship. So it has become a viable career option, which is really exciting.
At the moment in the women’s game I am currently refereeing in the FA Women’s National League, so the third step of women’s football, and in the men’s game I am a Level 5, so I am running the line at Eastern Counties kind of level, so step five and six of the men’s pyramid.
The goal in the short-term future is to reach the Barclays FA Women’s Super League and hopefully take charge of a Women’s FA Cup Final at Wembley. But in the long run, I would love to be involved in the men’s Premier League.

I have watched football since I can remember and the Premier League has been a massive part of that; I watch it religiously week-in, week-out. So to reach there as a female referee would be really special and is something I really hope I can do.