Howard Webb to manage Video Assistant Referee Operations for PRO

Retired referee legend will oversee implementation of video technology in refereeing in MLS

The Professional Referee Organization (PRO) announced Tuesday that it hired retired referee Howard Webb as the head of its video assistant referee operations.

Webb, considered one of the most-respected referees in the game, will “oversee the development and education, assessment, and assignment of video assistant referees for PRO,” according to a release from the organization.

MLS previously announced that it will begin testing the use of VAR during select preseason games this season. The system debuted in a game between Real Salt Lake and the San Jose Earthquakes in a preseason game in Arizona earlier this month. A total of 15 MLS clubs will be a part of the testing this preseason during preseason tournaments at IMG Suncoast Pro Classic, 2017 Desert Friendlies, FC Tuscon Desert Diamond Cup, Portland Timbers preseason tournament and Carolina Challenge Cup. The system will also be tested during the season, though it will not have an impact on the games as they are played.

MLS plans to incorporate VAR into regular-season games after the MLS All-Star Game on August 2.

The VAR system will only be utilized in four types of “game-changing” scenarios: goals, penalties, red cards and mistaken identity, according to MLSSoccer.com.

Webb refereed more than 500 English Premier League and Football League games during a 25-year career that also included games in the Champions League, European Championships and two World Cups. Webb is the only referee to officiate both a UEFA Champions League final and a FIFA World Cup final in the same year.

“I’m delighted to join the Professional Referee Organization for this new challenge and contribute to the implementation of what I view as a crucial development for the sport,” Webb said in a statement. “I have tremendous respect for the organization that Peter Walton has created and am excited to be on board for the continued development of this initiative.”

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