MLS & USSF Partner On New Referee Organization
MLS and the USSF have partnered to create the Professional Referee Organization (PRO), which will manage the officiating program for professional soccer leagues across the U.S. and Canada. The objectives of the new organization are to improve the quality of refereeing, develop younger refs and help officials get to the level of representing the U.S. and Canada at competitive FIFA events.
Beginning this year, PRO will manage officials in MLS and MLS Reserve games, the NASL, USL Pro and the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
Veteran English referee Peter Walton has been named general manager of PRO.
U.S. Soccer and MLS will govern and fund the organization, with support from the Canadian Soccer Association and other leagues.
“Thanks to collaborative work with U.S. Soccer and the Canadian Soccer Association, officiating in MLS made significant strides forward in the past year,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in a statement. “The overall level of MLS refereeing is good, and the creation of the Professional Referee Organization is the logical next stage of development. MLS and U.S. Soccer proudly welcome PRO General Manager Peter Walton, who will utilize his exceptional experience as a referee and as an administrator, along with substantial resources, to help MLS achieve its vision of setting the worldwide standard in officiating.”
“We’ve always understood that the development of referees is an important aspect to the growth of the game in the United States,” U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati said. “PRO is another step towards the improvement and professionalization of our top referees. With the additional resources and funding provided by the formation of PRO, we will continue to build upon the progress we’ve already made.”