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Professional Referee Organization appoints Howard Webb to oversee Video Assistant Referee project

A high-profile appointment for what will be a high-profile initiative once it gets going.

Warren Little/Getty Images

The Professional Referee Organization has announced Howard Webb will be taking on the role of Manager of Video Assistant Referee Operations in March, 2017.

PRO has oversight of professional referee training and development in the USA and Canada, and will be the primary body responsible for the deployment of VAR in MLS during the coming season.

Webb's appointment to his latest role had been tipped last year. More recently, Al Arabiya reported he had resigned his position with the Saudia Arabia Football Federation and accepted the opportunity to work in North America.

Webb will have a high profile role in the MLS effort to implement VAR, which the league hopes to see in use in regular season games after the 2017 All-Star Game.

The Video Assistant Referee initiative is a global project that now has the ambition of seeing video replay technology incorporated into refereeing at the 2018 World Cup. MLS has been an eager participant in the early stages of what appears to be an increasingly successful experiment. Though VAR is not without its own shortcomings, it currently appears that testing around the world is consistently delivering results that encourage the progression of the overall project. For example, last season Red Bull Arena and New York Red Bulls II provided a base for a limited test of live, in-game use of VAR in competitive professional soccer. Those tests in USL were the first of their kind in global soccer.

This year, VAR will return to the North American game with a run in MLS, spearheaded by Howard Webb.