In a groundbreaking moment for diversity and inclusion in the world of football, Sam Allison, a 42-year-old former firefighter, is poised to rewrite history as he steps onto the pitch to officiate Sheffield United’s Boxing Day clash with Luton Town.
This momentous occasion marks the return of a Black referee to the Premier League after a staggering 15-year hiatus and only the second time ever in the league’s history.
The 42-year-old’s remarkable journey to this historic milestone has been nothing short of extraordinary. His passion for the sport and dedication to his craft have propelled him from the lower tiers of football officiating to the grand stage of the Premier League. This moment is not only a personal triumph but also a significant step toward addressing the lack of diversity in football refereeing.
BAMRef, an organization offering guidance, support, mentoring, and counseling to Black, Asian, and mixed heritage referees, has celebrated Allison’s appointment as a monumental achievement. They see it as a crucial stride in the right direction, aiming to bridge the gap between refereeing and the diverse society it serves.
“We welcome this appointment,” the organization said in a statement. “It is a further step in the right direction towards refereeing reflecting society and the playing contingent within football.
“It is also the culmination of years of hard work by BAMRef members. We hope to work with Howard Webb (Professional Game Match Officials Board chief) to identify and progress more Black officials to the top flight,” it continued.
Dan Forbes, a level four referee working with BAMRef, has expressed his confidence in Allison’s ability to handle the pressure that comes with this historic moment. Forbes remarked, “Sam absolutely deserves to be there; he’s one of the top referees in the country, and there’s no doubt Sam will deliver and fly our flag.”
Allison’s historic appointment is just the beginning of a broader initiative to diversify the world of football officiating. Names like Lisa Rashid, Ruben Ricardo, and Aji Ajibola are also on the rise, and they too deserve the opportunity to make their mark on the Premier League.
This milestone comes on the heels of another historic moment in football refereeing when Rebecca Welch made history as the first woman to officiate a Premier League match.
The impact of this historic moment extends beyond the boundaries of football. Congratulations, Sam!