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Super Bowl LV: Sarah Thomas 'honoured' to be first woman to officiate in NFL's showpiece final

Sarah Thomas will serve as the down judge as part of a seven-person on-field officiating team for Super Bowl LV in Tampa on February 7; "I never set out to be the first in any of this, but knowing the impact I'm having on young girls, women everywhere - and young men too - is remarkable"

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Sarah Thomas talks about the impact of her selection to officiate in Super Bowl LV, taking place in Tampa on February 7

Sarah Thomas has said she is "truly honoured" to become the first woman chosen to officiate in a Super Bowl, ahead of the game at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay on Sunday, February 7.

Thomas has been named as the Super Bowl LV down judge - part of a seven-person on-field officiating team, led by referee Carl Cheffers - that will referee the NFL season finale between the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

"I'm truly honoured and humbled to be a part of this year's Super Bowl crew," Thomas said following the announcement. "When I get on that field, and take it all in, I know that I'm probably going to get a little teary-eyed.

"I never set out, at all, to be the first in any of this, but knowing the impact I'm having on not just my daughter, but young girls, women everywhere - and young men and men too - is remarkable."

The NFL's executive vice president of football operations, Troy Vincent, said of Thomas: "Sarah has made history again as the first female Super Bowl official.

"Her elite performance and commitment to excellence has earned her the right to officiate the Super Bowl. Congratulations to Sarah on this well-deserved honour."

Thomas, a former college basketball player, began her officiating career in 1996 and worked on her first varsity high school game in 1999. She was the first woman to officiate a major college football game, the first to officiate a bowl game, and then, in 2015, Thomas was hired as the first full-time female official in NFL history.

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"When I started officiating, there were very few females officiating in football," she added. "And now to see so many across the country and, not only that, I got an email the other day from overseas from some female football officials; across the world you can see the impact.

"My message to them would be, do it because you love it, don't do it because you want the recognition.

"But there's power in numbers. And when you start having more and more females, there is no-one doing it for the recognition - they are doing it because they love it."

The officiating team for Super Bowl LV in full is: Carl Cheffers (referee), Fred Bryan (umpire), Sarah Thomas (down judge), Rusty Baynes (line judge), James Coleman (field judge), Eugene Hall (side judge), Dino Paganelli (back judge), Mike Wimmer (replay official).

Cheffers, in his 21st season as an NFL official, will be refereeing his second Super Bowl following his first appearance at Super Bowl LI - a 34-28 win for the New England Patriots over the Atlanta Falcons in overtime - four years ago.

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