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What Howard Webb Will Bring to the MLS

Howard Webb will help improve the game in North America

Colombia v Cote D'Ivoire: Group C - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images

It’s not every referee in the world’s game that has his or her name remembered. Yet if you bring up the name Howard Webb to a football fan, they’re likely to remember his name.

The 45-year-old Englishman retired from refereeing back in 2014, his last game being no less than the 2014 World Cup Final in Rio de Janeiro between Germany and Argentina.

Czech Republic v Portugal - Quarter Final: UEFA EURO 2012 Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

What people who see this news at a quick glance might think about Howard Webb’s role in the MLS might be misunderstood. Howard Webb is not in here for ‘on-the-field refereeing,’ but rather to join the Professional Refereeing Organization (PRO) as head of its Video Assistant Referee (VAR) operations.

Although most if not all MLS fans would like to see him ref in-game, (due to the fact that the MLS is deprived of quality refereeing,) this appointment shows promise for the future of refereeing in the United States and Canada.

« His high-level officiating experience and work as a broadcaster will bring tremendous value as he guides our referees through various VAR testing and assessment exercises ahead of forthcoming VAR implementation, » said PRO general manager Peter Walton.

There’s no time for formalities on Howard Webb’s end. 30 MLS preseason games will use in-game VAR testing, with the goal being to hopefully start VAR in competitive matches around the start of the second half of the MLS regular season.

The man had been refereeing at the top level for 25 years, and was until recently a pundit back in the U.K. His designation is another step in the right direction for Major League Soccer.