Howard Webb - referee - during the 2010 World Cup final
Witters Sport/USA Today Sports

Howard Webb among candidates for VAR position with Pro Referee Organization

Howard Webb is in the running for a position with the Professional Referee Organization (PRO), but it’s not as a replacement for current general manager Peter Walton.

That’s the word from PRO on Saturday after reports surfaced in the English media that the world-renowned ex-referee was “set to replace Peter Walton.” But PRO confirmed that Walton, who since November 2012 has been at the helm of the group responsible for administering professional referee programs in the USA and Canada, is under contract through the end of 2017.

“The Professional Referees Organization is conducting a search for a senior executive who would oversee the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) project,” read Saturday’s statement from PRO. "Peter Walton, the general manager of PRO since its inception in 2012, will continue in his role managing the professional referee programs in North America. Once hired, the new senior executive will report to Walton.”

Webb is one of several candidates to manage the VAR project, which MLS is looking to implement in the near future. The league partnered with the United Soccer Leagues (USL) to conduct FIFA-approved live experiments during the 2016 season.

The Video Assistant Referee initiative, which is still in a testing and evaluation phase, consists of an additional referee positioned in a booth with technology that allows access to video from every available camera angle at a finger's touch. A communications system allows the VAR to alert and advise the head referee on “game-changing” decisions: goals, penalty decisions, direct red card incidents and cases of mistaken identity.

According to the International Football Association Board (IFAB), the body that oversees soccer's Laws of the Game, "the intention is for IFAB to make a decision in 2018 or 2019 on whether or not video assistant referees should be introduced in football.”

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