Sian Massey Stars As Female Assistant Referee in Wolves vs Liverpool Match

Some viewers may have done a double-take early Saturday while watching the replay of Liverpool’s first goal against Wolverhampton Wanderers to see if Raul Meireles was offside or not. With hair bobbing up and down, it was a female assistant referee who made the critical decision to keep her flag down, allowing Meireles to run on and take a pass from Christian Poulsen and for Meireles to pass the ball to Torres who slid the ball into the back of the net.

The replay clearly showed that the assistant referee made the correct decision. Ronald Zubar played Torres onside.

But who is the assistant referee who made the correct decision? It’s not every day in the Premier League that you get to see a female assistant referee.

Her name is Sian Massey. She was the assistant referee in the Sunderland against Blackpool game in late December 2010. Her appearance in today’s match between Wolves and Liverpool is only her second Premier League match. Previously she has been the assistant referee for many games in the Championship, LDV Vans Trophy, League Two as well as women’s World Cup qualifying.

She has been refereeing on a professional basis since March 2010.

Her next scheduled match is Tuesday’s game between Crewe and Bradford. It’s not the Premier League, but if she keeps on showing consistency and puts in great performances as an assistant referee, it makes you wonder when she’ll be given the chance to be the official referee. Thus far, she has only been given the chance to be a first and second assistant referee as well as a fourth official.

Massey is definitely a role model for women in officiating what has typically been seen as a men’s game. Let’s hope she continues her rise to fame.

UPDATE: Sky Sports presenters Richard Keys and Andy Gray made several sexist comments about Massey and Karren Brady off-mic Saturday. Hear the audio and read the story.

56 thoughts on “Sian Massey Stars As Female Assistant Referee in Wolves vs Liverpool Match”

  1. That was quick work Gaffer. A fine job of thinking ahead on your readers questions. Is she the only lady ref in football?

    1. There are a few others in England including Amy Fearn who has been an assistant referee in Championship matches. But I believe that Massey is the first to make it into the Premier League ranks with two games under her belt now (including this one).

      The Gaffer

    1. What an absolute joke you have already become.

      1955 called, they want your sexist attitude back. IMHO, they can have all of you.

    2. You gotta feel sorry for Craig, he misses the “good ole days” . He’s probably still fuming about the amount of black players in the premiership.

    3. Craig, what is your problem, she did well yesterday! I have seen a few male officials who I could quite easily criticise this season. Why not have a woman if she is capable, and this one hopefully is.

      1. My only concern for her is if she can keep up with the pace of the men, but I haven’t heard that is a problem for her. I’m glad she had to make a difficult decision correctly–gives her some cred. Best of luck to her.

        1. A woman is a woman. They can be great assistent referees. Maybe even better then men.

          But never a good head-referee. Never.

          As is proven in Brasil already.

          People writing above that it is good to make woman exactly like men are really mistreating women.

          Let a woman be a woman. Don’t put them at risk with agressive players and aggressive fans. While you are sitting at home in front of your tv.

          You are probably guys that try to shake a womans hand instead of kissing her..

  2. I thought Mc Manaman’s comments about her sex after she cited Liverpool for a foul throw was at best – condescending. It was the only black spot in an otherwise excellent ESPN broadcast. She did great job, I just hope that the players, fans, and PUNDITS can see past her sex.

    1. I didn’t hear what McManaman said, but I agree: From what I saw, she did a fine job, and there’s no reason she shouldn’t have the opportunity to continue working Premier League matches.

      I thought the no-call on Torres’ goal was a rather tough call – I had to see the replay in slo-mo before I was sure he was onside – and she got it right. I’ve seen other assistants blow those calls, so good on her.

      I’m sure she’ll make some mistakes, and some calls will be disputed forever – it’s that kind of sport. But let’s grow up and keep in mind what matters: How good she is at her job.

    2. I agree totally brn442. I thought that Macca’s reference to her calling a foul throw because of her gender which made her “overeager” to enforce the rules was very poor commentary. She did an excellent job in my opinion. Wolves tried to play a very high line (though failed miserably with a badly ragged back four) and that was going to force the line official to be very sharp. I thought she did a brilliant job and I will be very pleased when I see Sian or another female wear the shirt of the match referee.

      1. To be fair to Macca, I think he was indicating she may be “over-eager” due to the fact that this is only her second Premier League game.

        It may have sounded a little odd but I don’t think he intended it that way.

  3. I’ve seen several people claim sexism just because people pointed out she was a female assistant referee. Well she is. And that is very unusual, so pointing it out is hardly sexism, anymore than pointing out if there was for some reason a Finnish official in the Prem League, it is just not what you see in every other game.
    She did a good job, although she called Torres offside a few minutes later when he wasn’t.
    Still, fairly or not, she is going to need to be better than the males around her, not just as good, if she is ever going to ref a match at the top level. A couple of bad errors, the type a male ref could probably get away with, and the tabloids will run and run with it.

  4. Do men referee in Women football?

    Would it be sexist if a women tried out to play for a club lets say, Man U or Liverpool and got rejected?
    Or would it be sexist if she was denied the trials straight away?

    1. Varun – unless that’s a lazy attempt at a rhetorical question – the answer is yes to your first question.

      For Christ sakes; she is working as an assistant referee, not trying out to be a centre-forward, and since it seems that she’s in her 20’s; she should be in fitter than most referees, many of whom – are in their late 30’s to mid 40’s.

      George and Jon – I’m glad I’m not the only one to notice it – well said.

  5. Brn442 has it right when he called it “condescending” because there were at least three times McManaman made comments on her decisions that surprised me (two offside decisions and the throw-in), because I don’t think anyone would have said anything had it been a male (even the throw-in call, I’ve seen several recently in the Bundesliga that were just giggled at in passing by the commentators, and left alone), and they sounded like forced, unnecessary things to say. Actually, they just sounded smarmy.

    I’ve seen a few posts elsewhere that claimed she can’t physically keep up with the pace of the game, but I didn’t see any evidence of that. She’s a ref, she did a fine job, and nothing about her being a woman changed the way the game was played or the result, so like Brn442 said, I hope we can all treat her as a ref in the future.

    Still, it’s pretty cool she’s one of the first women to break into that level.

  6. I thought she had a very good game. Better than a lot of other assistant referees I’ve seen this season. I hope she gets to do more games as she clearly deserves it given today’s performance. I also hope it’s only a matter of time before she’s given an opportunity to referee a game. Probably will happen in the lower divisions first before she’s given a chance in the EPL. Still I’d love to see her as a referee.

  7. This lady/girl has been fast tracked into this position wasn’t so long ago maybe 4 years that she was referee to a local alliance game at a pretty poor standard didn’t really have it then not being sexist but there are a hell of a lot better male referees that haven;t progressed any further .From what i could see she did seem to struggle to keep up though

    1. I last refereed with Sian about 5 years ago in a “local” game, Sian and I qualified around the same time about 12-13 years ago and I don’t know of another referee out there that has committed the time or dedication that she has. Male or Female she is there because she has passed the assesments and the fitness tests that are allocated equally no matter of race or sex.

      Despite what people may think about her being fasttracked because of her sex I can assure you that is nonsence, if anything Sian will have had a harder time from many in what is still an “old boy” establishment.

      Sian first appeared on major TV three years ago officiating the Womans FA Cup Final and she did a fantastic job, she will go very far and I have no doubt that she will be our first female Level 1 or most probably Fifa official on the Mens List.

      1. well supported steve, hope she gets very far, maybe into europe if her scorcard merits it. i played in the alliance premier 1 in cov years ago, and the standard, or at least the competition at that local level is huge. you need strong officials there. a good grounding for her coming up into the pro-leagues. worried all this hype is gonna make her a multi-media plaything and distract her mind during the big games. there’ll be chants, and all sorts of crap if it gets out of hand.

  8. This might finally add some weight to the Respect campaign. If the Gents cannot behave well in front of the Ladies, nothing can change them lol

    1. That’s actually a really good idea. No matter how feral guys like Rooney and Terry might be, I can’t imagine them shouting and screaming obscenities at a female referee in the same way they do to male referees.

  9. Like others here I am happy to see women take the field as officals and hope to see more. However, I am worried that she is being pushed too far, too fast. If that isn’t a typo, she’s been officiating professionally for less the 2 yrs and she is already working Premier League games? That seems awfully fast and I would have hoped that the FA and Premier League would have learned when they pushed Stewart Atwell like that. He seems to be doing better, but he was ill prepared when he got called up and is only now showing a better understanding.

    I hope the same thing does not arise because it would be dreadful to see women pushed back because the League rushed her into an assignment.

    Lastly, I would be curious what the average time as a professional is before handling Premier League games.

    1. There have been male and female linespeople in Ireland for years now doing a great job for football…………..get a grip!!

  10. How long soemone has been officiating has no bearing on how well they do as officials. A lot of the more experienced referees and assistants make lots of mistakes every week. Last week we saw Howard Webb make the wrong call in awarding United a penalty against Liverpool. What the EPL needs are referees who make good calls consistently. From what I’ve seen of Massey she has the potential to be up to the task. If and when she makes a mistake then only do we have the right to question her as we should do other officials.

    Maybe if we had more female officials the boys will stop complaining so much and get on with the game. Maybe they’ll realize that like their significant others who don’t listen to them the female officials won’t either :) . Win-win, less complaining more playing.

  11. I thought she did remarkably well especially considering all the abuse she got from the Wolves’ fans after the first goal. Most officials do tend to be affected by the home crowd and that she did well under the circumstances bodes well for her future as an official.

    I also agree with Jason that “Maybe if we had more female officials the boys will stop complaining so much and get on with the game”. It sickens me that after every whistle for a foul there’s nothing but complaining that follows delaying the game even further.

  12. The future of soccer is with more female referees. Only a woman knows when a man is faking it :) .

    Gaffer, do you have her number?

  13. You go girl! She’s definitely better than Mark Clattenburg who should have given WBA a penalty instead of a free kick outside the box. The girl has better eyesight than those middle-aged men.

  14. I’ll take her and her ability to make quick, correct decisions any day over that undercover Manc Webb, who sent off Gerrard when photographs show he wasn’t even looking at the incident he booked him for. Yes, I’m biased because I’m an LFC supporter, but the facts are that she made the right call and he didn’t, nor was he actually watching.

  15. She had a decent game but was a little off the pace when there was a counter attack. One example, and theres a few, if Torres had been off for Meireles’ ball ( 1st goal), she wouldn’t have known about it as she was miles behind.

    Maybe she can work on that though.

    Was funny when the commentators thought she got the 1st goal offside decision wrong. And the Wolves fans must feel like proper tits once they see the Zubar donkey playing RM onside.

  16. Sian
    Absoulety appalled by Andy Gray + Richard Keys.
    Keep your “microphone” on! You were absolutely “bang on”. As a rising star in your profession any chance you refs can get the FA and Fifa to stop changing the “off side rule” every 10 minutes? That way sad, bigotted old men and a 50 year old Man Utd fan might get it!

    All the best


  17. I think both sides need to agree on terms.

    1 – no off remarks based on gender/race – if someone can do the job let them do it.

    2 – no sexism/racism cards thrown anytime someone questions the person’s decisions. Already seen someone throw it at Macca when he was clearly referring to inexperience, not gender.

  18. Gaffer, thanks for the Graham Poll link. I would advise everyone to read it as it sheds light on the people involved.

  19. I look forward to seeing her referee a big final, who knows, maybe even the World Cup final in Qatar in 2022, because that would be f***ing amazing!

    There are millions of women round the world who love the game, although the patronizing gits seem to be oblivious to this, and I’m sure all women fans everywhere are livid at this.

    Sky, please sack the sad sacks Keys and Gray, for god’s sake. Why do we even tolerate this b***shit?

  20. Men and women can be considered equals in the athletic department when they desegregate the Olympics. Oh, but then women wouldn’t qualify so we can’t have that!

  21. The only real problemI have is that she has been fast tracked because she is a women, so thats postive sexism, she has only been doing it for 5 years, 2 of my mates are refs and they said they would have no chance in getting near that level in that time.
    As for grey and keys comments, there allowed there opinions, and as for what they said about Karan Brady they were bang on, she is a cow, cares nothing for football, she only cares for her self and making money, so in that respect she can give us a break from her preching.

    As for sexism in football, of course there is , its only played by men, mainly working class men, all with pretty low brain power.

    I dont see any females refs in rugby or cricket, so maybe football is not as sexist as those sports, but either way when you have a game only played by men , your always going to get sexism, its just how it is., Anyone who disagrees maybe you should come and watch a game of sunday league.

    1. i think this is a disgusting attiture to have towards women in football.
      i’m 17 and came across this website by doing a piece of college coursework on sexism in football.
      i have loved football for as long as i can remember and i am just as passionate about it as any male.
      yes, they may be aloud their opinion, but if they were saying this about a ref because they were black, would you tollerate it then?
      their remarks were rude and disrepectful towards a woman, who may i point out, was correct, just because she’s a ‘woman in football’
      -i’ve grown up watching football, and women can be just as good as men.
      so why don’t you take your chauvinistic views back to the 50’s where they belong.

  22. Steve: maybe she hasn’t been fast tracked, maybe she’s stood out as someone who’s worked hard and is actually good at their job, unlike some others who expect to be promoted without earnest efforts.

  23. Good luck to her. There has been female and male linesmen in Ireland for years and they do a great job for football. Sack Gray and Keys……….. they are ignorant fuddy duddy has beens.

  24. These folks are pioneers maybe… in 10 years there might be loads of female refs and so on… and maybe even a decent woman in F1… like Simona in Indycar.

  25. Hei Sian! Good call over Richard’s “off side goal” last night! but seriously man, wish you were refereeing Sunderland vs City in January!!!

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