New CONCACAF ref director Brian Hall vows to 'foster top-class performance'
CONCACAF has appointed former World Cup referee Brian Hall as its director of refereeing.
Hall, 54, returns to the post that he held for three years starting in December of 2010. He most recently held the position of Match Official Development Manager for the Professional Referees Organization, the entity that handles referee development and match assignment duties for MLS as well as other leagues in North America.
"It's a great honor to have this opportunity," Hall told ESPN FC. "It was a very extensive process. I love refereeing, whether it was with PRO or with CONCACAF, but I think the CONCACAF position just offers additional challenges, more of a global and regional perspective on refereeing."
CONCACAF confirmed Hall's hire in a statement on their website on Monday.
"Refereeing is one of the most critical functions for the Confederation and we are confident that the department's reorganization under Brian's leadership will establish an efficient structure to continue strengthening our operations," said CONCACAF acting general secretary Ted Howard.
"Brian has a deep understanding of our region and an intense passion for refereeing. We look forward to having him lead the assessment and development of referees, while ensuring that our community of referees receives the necessary support to perform professionally and effectively on the field."
Hall's refereeing career began when he was 19 years old, and he was a FIFA referee for 15 years until 2007, when he reached the mandatory retirement age of 45. He refereed two games at the 2002 World Cup and was named MLS Referee of the Year in 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2007.
Hall noted that his previous tenure with CONCACAF ended in 2013 because of his desire to continue living in New York City rather than move to Miami, which was required at the time. And he did see some seeds planted that ultimately resulted in the region's referees performing well at the 2014 World Cup.
But memories are short, and Hall's appointment comes in the aftermath of the 2015 Gold Cup, which was marred by several highly contentious decisions that benefited eventual champions Mexico, especially in the quarterfinal win over Costa Rica, as well as the semifinal triumph over Panama.
The refereeing in the tournament sparked accusations of match fixing by Panamanian Football Federation Pedro Chaluja, though a subsequent investigation by CONCACAF found no evidence of wrongdoing.
"Based on interviews and statements from referees, it is possible that a number of external circumstances, most notably recent labor disputes by the referee group and internal disputes, were an unnecessary distraction for the referees at a critical time," said CONCACAF in a statement released in January. "In interviews, the referees admitted personal errors and apologized for them."
CONCACAF did part ways with the then-director of the Referee Department, Sonia Denoncourt, and now Hall is set to take over as the confederation tries to reform its match appointment process, the ways referees are compensated, as well as adopt FIFA best practices when it comes to referees.
"Referees are like players, that star striker," said Hall. "They have to be in a good groove, and part of my job as director of refereeing within CONCACAF is to help create that environment that will foster top-class performances. How do we put something in place where we are going to give these referees the confidence to excel to get them back on track, to be the best that they can be, and show the world that  was an anomaly? That one event wasn't representative of CONCACAF refereeing."
Hall added that the turnaround would be accomplished in part by providing tools, training, and development programs for the region's referees, as well as recognizing top performances. Hall is also cognizant of the fact that the 2016 Copa America Centenario is on the horizon, a tournament that will once again put the region's referees under the microscope. To that end, he plans to reach out to the top officials in the region to get them "pumped up and physically prepared for this phenomenal tournament that's knocking on our door here."
Hall added, "The life of a referee, even more than a player, is one of highs and lows. You can imagine the highs and lows from the last Gold Cup. What a great referee program does is help individuals smooth out the peaks and the valleys."