'They shouted at me just the same' – Watson hopes for more female referees

Lorraine Watson

The first woman to referee a senior men’s game in Scottish football hopes her emergence in the professional ranks will help young female officials “aim higher than they ever had before”.

Lorraine Watson took charge of Edinburgh City’s 1-0 win over Berwick Rangers in Scottish League Two.

The 32-year-old was appointed fourth official at four matches during Women’s Euro 2017 in July.

“The more it happens, the more normal it will become,” Watson said.

“The more people see it, the more chance we have of young ones coming through and maybe aiming that bit higher than they ever had before.”

Watson says the players at Ainslie Park, where Ashley Grimes’ goal gave City victory, did not make an issue of her debut.

“It was brilliant. There was absolutely no reaction, they just treated me the same as they would any other referee,” she told BBC Scotland.

“When they disagreed [with decisions], they shouted at me just the same as if it was a male in the middle.

“As a referee, it doesn’t matter if you’re male, female or any other difference in you, if the teams and supporters aren’t happy with your decisions, they will pick up on something – and unfortunately if you happen to be a female, that’s generally what they pick up on first – and they’ll make comments regarding that.

“But it all goes back to the decisions made on the field. If you’re there and have a good game, you’re going to get minimum dissent, just the same as any male would.”

‘It’s not just happened overnight’

Lorraine Watson

Having run the line at Ibrox for a Rangers League Two fixture four years ago, and officiated at the Women’s Under-19 European Championships as well as the Women’s Champions League, Watson is a category one development official.

The building surveyor from Thornton in Fife is currently bidding to attain full Scottish FA category one status. That would allow her to referee matches as high as Scotland’s top flight.

“Everyone starts as category seven, you get assessed in your games and work your way up,” Watson said. “Just now I’m category one development – that’s 15 years I’ve been refereeing, so it’s not just happened overnight, it’s been like a long-flow apprenticeship.

“You start off at the youth, go to the amateur, junior, then into the seniors. You really do start at the bottom and work your way up.

“I’m hoping to have a few League Two matches this year. You get assessed at each of these games along with some junior games, and the committee will decide if you’re able to go up to the next level.

“The next level for me would be category one, and if I was category one it would open the door for me to do anything up to the Premiership.”

BBC Sport – Football

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