MLS refs call for VAR safety review after official assaulted in Atlanta

The union that represents Major League Soccer referees has called on the league and the Professional Referees Organization (PRO) to review security measures after one of its referees was injured by a beer cup thrown from the stands earlier this week.

During last Tuesday's match between Atlanta United and Minnesota United, which the Loons won 3-2, referee Armando Villarreal was jogging towards the league's Video Assistant Referee system (VAR) behind one of the goals midway through the second half when he was struck in the face by a beer cup thrown from the stands.

Villarreal continued to referee the game, but according to a report from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, he was later found to have sustained injuries to his face from the assault.

Kyle Bachmeier, 40, of Marietta was arrested and booked into Fulton County jail on a simple assault charge in connection with the incident.

The Professional Soccer Referees Association, the union that represents MLS referees, released a statement on Thursday which read: "In Tuesday's MLS match between Atlanta United and Minnesota United, a dangerous and unacceptable act of aggression took place against a match official. PSRA calls on MLS and PRO to immediately review the security measures at all MLS stadiums as it relates to the on-field use of Video Review.

"The use of this new technology is a welcome addition to our great game, but there must be strict security protocols in place to protect the match officials and anyone else involved in the Video Review process.

"PSRA would also like to applaud the professionalism of the Atlanta Police Department Officers for moving quickly to show their presence to protect the Referee and prevent further incident."

MLS released a statement that the fan in question would be banned from attending all future league games.

"MLS has no tolerance for this type of behavior or any behavior that threatens the safety of players, coaches, referees, staff and fans," the league said in a statement.