New body is formed to manage pro refs in North America

Peter Walton - January 7, 2012

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Fans have recently clamored for radical change in the referee structure in the USA and Canada, and on Tuesday, their wish came true.

MLS, US Soccer and the Canadian Soccer Association have collaborated to form the Professional Referee Organization (PRO), to manage all referees and refereeing matters for the pro leagues in the United States and Canada.

Heading up the PRO is current English Premier League referee Peter Walton, a veteran of nearly 200 EPL matches since 2003. The 52-year-old will assume the new fulltime post of GM of the organization. His appointment starts on April 2 and he’ll be based in New York City throughout the MLS season.

The goal is simple: to set the worldwide standard for soccer refereeing.

WATCH: What you need to know about the PRO

“The overall level of MLS refereeing is good, and the creation of the Professional Referee Organization is the logical next stage of development,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in a statement.

PRO is charged with increasing the quality and training of current referees and to develop more officials, including more full-time referees.

The new group will incorporate several of the new initiatives introduced last year – a referee command center in New York, the use of video analysis, real-time evaluations and in-stadium professional match evaluators.

US Soccer and MLS will collaboratively run and fund the PRO with support from the Canadian Soccer Association and the other pro leagues (NASL and USL-Pro).