By Keith Hackett

11th Jan, 2022 | 10:54am

Ex-Fifa official hails 'huge' Birmingham City occasion after landmark development

Keith Hackett has heaped praise on Rebecca Welch after she became the first female official to referee an FA Cup third round tie as Plymouth Argyle beat Birmingham City 1-0 on Saturday (8 January).

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the ex-Fifa and Premier League referee insisted Welch got the game’s only big call spot on and put in a “great performance”.

Welch sent off Birmingham’s George Friend for two yellow card offences.

Plymouth went on to progress to the fourth round of the competition after a Ryan Law winner in extra time.

That has set up a trip to European champions Chelsea in the fourth round next round.

“She had a double yellow card followed rightly by the red which was totally right,” Hackett said after analysing Welch’s performance with Football Insider correspondent Connor Whitley.

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“It’s a huge occasion for her because this is a pathway moment for lost of things that are positive. Current women and young girls who are currently refereeing will aspire to follow her role.

“She gets around the field of play, she makes accurate decisions, players respond very positively towards her which is a bit of an eye-opener.

“She deserved her appointment and I compliment her on her performance, I think she was great.

“There’s always going to be a lot spoken about her. Anybody who is creating history is going to have a lot of focus.

“Refereeing has historically been regarded as a man’s world but it’s changed dramatically over the last 15 years and we’ve got some really good women referees coming through.

“She’s very professional in her approach and good luck to her.”

In other news, Birmingham City have agreed to sign a £34million player from a Premier League giant.