Howard Webb to depart PRO after 2022 MLS season for role in England

Howard Webb

Howard Webb, General Manager of the Professional Referee Organization (PRO), will leave after the 2022 Major League Soccer season to become the first-ever Chief Refereeing Officer of England’s Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL), the organizations announced Wednesday.

Webb will be closely involved in the active search to name his successor before taking on the newly-created position, which will see him begin a new chapter back in his homeland. The role will include oversight of officials across the English Premier League and various other tiers.

“It has been a great pleasure to be part of the Professional Referee Organization over the last six years,” Webb said in a release. “I have learned so much from my time working in North America that will serve me well in my new role, and I will miss interacting with the dedicated, enthusiastic, and talented officials and support staff at PRO.

“Over the last few years, we have seen a growing pool of officials achieve international recognition and participate commendably in the biggest tournaments in the world. This is a testament to the program led by the outstanding team here.”

Webb’s leadership

Webb joined PRO as Video Review Operations Manager in 2017 before succeeding Peter Walton as the organization’s General Manager in January 2018. Under Webb’s guidance, PRO and MLS rolled out both the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) initiative in 2017 and the Concussion Substitute initiative in 2021. Further, six PRO officials have been selected to work the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar among other international assignments during Webb’s leadership.

While at PRO, Webb’s responsibilities include identifying, training, assessing, and assigning match officials in numerous North American competitions, including: Major League Soccer, the National Women’s Soccer League, MLS NEXT Pro, and the United Soccer League.

“We could not have asked for a better leader than Howard Webb the past four years,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in a release. “When MLS worked with U.S. Soccer and the Canadian Soccer Association to form PRO, we knew best-in-class leadership was critical to improving the quality of refereeing.

“The foundation was built, and when Howard came on board, he brought experience from refereeing at the highest level and had a smart and steady hand in elevating the entire professional officiating program for our league and the sport. With six MLS referees selected as match officials for the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, our referees are now recognized among the world’s best.”

“The future is bright”

Webb remains the only referee to officiate both a UEFA Champions League Final and FIFA World Cup Final in the same year (2010). He oversaw more than 500 combined matches in the English Premier League and Football League during his 25-year career.

“I have every confidence that the excellent leadership team at PRO will continue to strive to deliver the very best support required for growth, and they will work hard to match the ambitions of the leagues which PRO serves as they all continue to expand,” said Webb.

“I would like to record my thanks to everyone who has helped me during my time at PRO. The desire of the group to learn and improve is second to none, and when the time comes, I know it will be hard to say goodbye. I will forever cherish the people and the organization’s work to improve the standard of officiating. The future is bright.”