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VAR: BA Pilots Coach Premier League Officials

Howard Webb, the chief refereeing officer for the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL), recently invited British Airways pilots to talk to his team of Premier League referees as part of an initiative to improve communication in the VAR (video assistant referee) hub and the referee on the pitch. 


Webb's initiative to utilise pilots' experience comes at the recent turn of events, especially demonstrated in Luis Diaz's wrongly disallowed goal for Liverpool at Tottenham Hotspur. 


It is widely believed that pilots work in a high-pressure environment where split-second decisions are routine and precise communication with team members in the cockpit, as well as the air traffic control, is imperative. 


The two British Airways pilots, Chris Heaven and Pete Nataraj, led the 45-minute presentation, which included maintaining a calm demeanour in challenging situations, for Select Group 1 officials, including 20 referees and 30 assistant referees taking charge of most Premier League matches. 


PGMOL is, of course, not the first body to turn to the aviation sector to work on developing and improving strategies for better operations. The National Health Service, too, turned to the aviation industry in 2013 to better standardise procedures and actively use checklists to avoid errors. 


This presentation is one of Webb's many endeavours to end the disastrous blunders that have long plagued the VAR. The Select Group 1 officials are also taking part in fortnightly workshops to work on several issues, one of which is determining the right time for the VAR to intervene and advise referees on their errors. 


Brookfield applauds Webb's initiative in looking at the aviation industry with its successful methods as an inspiration to develop sound communication strategies on the field. We hope this unique collaboration inspires strategic partnerships between industries worldwide to create better systems for us all. 


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