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Rebecca Welch: Police arrest two teenagers at Birmingham after referee targeted by misogynistic chanting

Rebecca Welch targeted by chants during Birmingham's win over Sheffield Wednesday; official became fist woman to referee a Championship match earlier this year; West Midlands Police: "We don't tolerate any form of hate and it is important hate crime is reported to us."

Rebecca Welch made history in January by becoming the first female to take charge of a Championship fixture.
Image: Rebecca Welch refereed Birtmingham City vs Sheffield Wdnesday at St Andrew's

West Midlands Police have confirmed that two arrests were made for misogynistic chanting at match referee Rebecca Welch during Birmingham City's game with Sheffield Wednesday.

The match saw Wayne Rooney collected his first win as Birmingham manager after a 2-1 comeback victory against the Sky Bet Championship's bottom club at St Andrew's.

It was overshadowed by news of two 17-year-olds being arrested for alleged chants towards Welch, who made history in January when she became the first woman to officiate a Championship match after she took charge of Birmingham's clash with Preston.

West Midlands Police said in a statment: "We have arrested two boys for misogynistic chanting at the female referee during Birmingham City's home game at St Andrew's today (Nov 25).

"Our officers heard the chants being directed at the official and acted quickly to arrest the two, who are both 17. They are currently in custody on suspicion of a public order offence as we carry out enquiries.

"We don't tolerate any form of hate and it is important hate crime is reported to us.

Juninho Bacuna celebrates after scoring for Birmingham against Sheffield Wednesday
Image: Juninho Bacuna scoring for Birmingham in the win against Sheffield Wednesday

"Today is White Ribbon Day which is the start of a 16 day long campaign.

"It focuses on everyone, especially men and boys on what they can do to change the behaviour and culture that leads to abuse and violence against women and girls."

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This weekend marks White Ribbon day - a campaign to end violence against women and girls supported by Sky Sports.

Birmingham City had issued guidance to supporters ahead of the game in an effort to try and ensure the match went ahead without any unsavoury off-field incident.

A statement ahead of the Sheffield Wednesday fixture highlighted how Welch faced "sexist and misogynistic" chants during her previous match at St Andrew's against Preston.

"The Sky Bet Championship match on Saturday 25 November, kick-off 3pm, will be officiated by Rebecca Welch," the club wrote ahead of Saturday's game.

"Unfortunately, when she last refereed at St. Andrew's, the Club received several reports of sexist and misogynistic abuse aimed at the official.

"This will not be tolerated and any individual reported for such behaviour will be asked to leave their seat by stewards. Furthermore, in accordance with the club's behaviour matrix, foul and abusive language carries a potential ban of up to four matches, with discriminatory and hate speech being punishable with a maximum ban of five years.

"The club recognises that the vast majority of Bluenoses behave in an exemplary manner, however, there is a small minority who let the rest down.

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Highlights of the Sky Bet Championship match between Birmingham and Sheffield Wednesday.

"Birmingham City has a zero-tolerance policy towards any form of discrimination and is committed to identifying, confronting and eliminating discrimination towards any group or individual based on a protected characteristic, with a number of reporting procedures available to supporters."

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