PRO hires ex-referee Howard Webb to oversee video assistant referee program
Former prominent referee Howard Webb, who has worked World Cup and Champions League finals in addition to a noted career in the Premier League, will be overseeing the Professional Referee Organization's Video Assistant Referee (VAR) operations, the North American organization announced Tuesday.
MLS is experimenting with video replay throughout the preseason–15 clubs will be exposed to it in winter exhibitions–and has a stated goal of implementing it in live games during the second half of the 2017 season after the All-Star Game in early August. Webb, who is currently the director of referees for the Saudi Arabia Football Federation and a broadcaster for BT Sports' Champions League telecasts will be based in New York when he takes the reins of his new role in March.
“Howard Webb will be a great asset to PRO in spearheading the VAR project,” PRO General Manager Peter Walton said in a statement. “His high-level officiating experience and work as a broadcaster will bring tremendous value as he guides our referees through various VAR testing and assessment exercises ahead of forthcoming VAR implementation.”
VAR was used at the FIFA Club World Cup when Japan's Kashima Antlers were awarded a penalty kick against Atletico Nacional after a review by referee Viktor Kassai. The system will allow referees to stop play for “game-changing decisions,” and FIFA president Gianni Infantino has a stated goal of incorporating VAR at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Webb will oversee the development and education, assessment, and assignment of VAR for PRO, which oversaw the first test use of replay in a USL match last summer, which resulted in the showing of a red card to Orlando City B's Conor Donovan