Bhupinder Singh Gill becomes the first-ever Sikh-Punjabi assistant referee in the English Premier League
Bhupinder Singh Gill (right) with his father, Jarnail Singh, and brother Sunny. Image by Barrington Coombs/Getty Images
Match official Bhupinder Singh Gill has made history at the relegation match between Southampton and Nottingham Forest, which took place on Wednesday, 4 January.
Gill has become the first-ever Sikh-Punjabi assistant referee in the English Premier League. He assisted Thomas Bramall, the referee in the match, along with Marc Perry.
Gill, also known as Bhups, said, “This has to be the proudest and most exciting moment in my refereeing journey, but I’m not getting carried away as it is just another step in the direction to where I want to get to.”
He added, “Hopefully, this is another moment to help inspire the next generation to sign up to a refereeing course and get into officiating. My dream has always been to reach the top of the game, be a role model for future officials and encourage more people from diverse backgrounds into officiating, especially from a South Asian background just like me.”
Howard Webb, the chief refereeing officer of Professional Game Match Officials Ltd, said that Gill had proven his abilities as a talented official in the EFL.
He said, “I’m delighted that Bhupinder has been given this appointment in the Premier League – for him as an individual, and for the recognition of the talented and dedicated official he is, having worked his way through the levels.
“Bhupinder’s appointment to the Premier League and the best league in the world will show an even greater audience about what’s possible for people from different backgrounds. It will give other British [South] Asian boys and girls an opportunity to see somebody who looks like them doing something that they thought wasn’t possible for them previously.”
Webb told Sky Sports, “It’s a great opportunity to use Bhupinder’s expertise in the capacity as a role model, but also for us to have his ability as an official – because he’s good at what he does.”
According to The Guardian, Gill’s brother Sunny is the highest-ranking referee of South Asian origin in England and joined the EFL referees’ list last year. Both the brothers made history in 2021 when they worked on the same Championship fixture, where Gill was the assistant referee and Sunny was the fourth official when Bristol City hosted Nottingham Forest.
Their father, Jarnail Singh, is a trailblazer in the field who paved the way for many young South Asians to consider being referees in the sport. He took charge of over 150 games in the period between 2004 and 2010, and was the first official to wear a turban in senior English football, The Guardian reports.
Bhupinder said, “My family are also really proud and excited for me.” He continued, “I wouldn’t be in this situation if it wasn’t for my dad, who has supported me throughout my journey and been a role model for me. He’s taken leave from work to make sure he attends the game alongside my wife and son. It’ll be special to have them there.”