With the first stage of training complete, PRO’s Director of Senior Match Officials Mark Geiger is pleased with how well CONCACAF’s referees have taken to their VAR certification program.
In an exciting partnership, 23 of Concacaf’s best referees are learning how to implement Video Review from both the on-field perspective and from the booth.
Geiger joined PRO’s Manager of Video Review Operations Greg Barkey and Manager of Senior Assistant Referees Joe Fletcher in Florida to help deliver the referees’ first three-day installment last month.
“The first time you sit down in front of a monitor is a very new and difficult experience, but the group showed a lot of promise,” Geiger said. “With more training, they will soon become top video assistant referees.
“Just as referees and ARs have different skillsets, we are taking these top-level referees from Concacaf and giving them another attribute that’s needed to be successful.
“Once this group is certified, we will then be able to bring back the Mexican, US and Canadian officials who are already trained in Video Review so that Concacaf can implement Video Review into their different competitions.”
The sessions are the culmination of months of planning that was actioned at the start of the year.
“We started the program by teaching the referees the protocol – essentially the procedure of the Video Review and when to intervene.
“Using real-life clips from Major League Soccer, the Bundesliga and the Premier League, they simulated using the equipment, an operator, and the communication they would have with the referee.
“Then they underwent training as the on-field referee, with players simulating situations that would be checked by Video Review, such as a penalty decision. We had VARs off to the side who communicated with the on-field referee who worked through the whole review process.”
Geiger, Barkey and Fletcher will help deliver the next stage in April at Generation adidas, when the candidates will work as surrogate VAR and referees on live games without communication to the on-field referee, and then later trialed as a VAR on live matches.
The training is a collaborative effort between PRO and Major League Soccer to get Concacaf officials up to the required standard for Video Review. Building on their globally recognized position as an innovative league at the forefront of Video Review implementation, MLS was instrumental in making this initiative happen, and their staff played a vital role in ensuring all elements of this complex program came together smoothly and efficiently.
“We took care of the technical, instructional side, while MLS made sure everything was organized and that all the officials that were taking part in the process met IFAB’s requirements for certification.
“We were one of the first leagues to institute Video Review, and we have been on the forefront on the world stage, being represented at the highest level.
“For Concacaf to opt to utilize the expertise of MLS and PRO to train their officials reinforces our position as a leader in this field.”