Contrary to English media reports, PRO general manager Peter Walton is not about to be replaced by former FIFA and Premier League referee Howard Webb.
PRO issued a statement Saturday confirming that Webb is one of several candidates to oversee the implementation of video replay by leagues in the U.S. and Canada as senior executive of the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) project. During the 2016 season, MLS conducted live tests of video replay during USL games.
The senior executive will report to Walton, who since November 2012 has been general manager of PRO, which manages pro referees in the U.S. and Canada. His contract runs through 2017. The PRO statement said Walton “will continue in his role managing the professional referee programs in North America.”
Webb, 45, retired in 2014 after working for more than a decade (2003-14) in the Premier League and as a FIFA referee since 2005. During his international career, he officiated at the 2010 and 2014 World Cups and the 2008 and 2012 European Championships. In 2010 he ran the center at both the Champions League final and World Cup final.
Under the VAR system, a referee stationed in front of video monitors can view a play from every available camera angle and communicate with head referee on goals, penalty-kick decisions, issuance of red and yellow cards, and cases of mistaken identity. Events leading up to a goal can be reviewed as well as the question of whether the ball crossed the goal line.
On Wednesday FIFA president Gianni Infantino said he would like to see video replay used at the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Tests of the system could be conducted at the next two major FIFA competitions: the World Club Cup that kicks off Dec. 8, and the 2017 Confederations Cup.
In March, the International Football Association Board (IFAB) -- which is authorized by FIFA to research, evaluate and implement rule changes – approved a two-year testing period of video replay. Tests are being conducted in Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Portugal, Australia and Brazil as well as the United States.