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Global Jun 20, 2014

World Cup: Mark Geiger could become first American referee in knockout stages

In any World Cup, there is going to be controversy, especially from the referee and his crew. The frequency of questionable calls in the group stage has been high, and at times the overall quality of refereeing hasn’t been up to the standard of the world’s biggest stage.

One referee that hasn’t put himself into the action with poor decisions has been American Mark Geiger. That Geiger, a Beachwood, New Jersey native, has done an incredible job in high profile group matches such as Spain against Chile, shouldn’t come as a shock. His reputation precedes him.

Mark Geiger interviewed by in 2011

Geiger, a retired math teacher, has steadily climbed the refereeing ladder. He took charge in matches at the 2012 London Olympics, was in the center for a fifth place match at the Club World Cup as well as the fourth official for the finals. He also became the first American to referee the final of a major FIFA men’s tournament, taking the center for the U-20 championship match in 2011.

“I don’t think he’ll be making any mistakes,” Michael Kennedy, a former FIFA referee that monitors Geiger’s referee performances in Major League Soccer for PRO (Professional Referee Organization) told the Washington Post before the start of the tournament. “At the end of the day, he’s got that mentality and toughness and fitness to get in there, stay close to play and find the right angle to get it right.”

So far those words have rung true. His presence as the center ref, the first for an American at the World Cup since 2002, has already earned rave reviews. While other decisions have marred several of the early matches, Geiger has gone unnoticed in the middle, which is what you want in a referee. He has yet to put a foot, well whistle blown, wrong in his time on the pitch.

After having already done the center for two group games, it is unlikely that he gets a third. Referees typically only get two matches in the opening phase.

However, that doesn’t mean Geiger’s World Cup is set to come to an end. He could again enter territory where no other American referee has reached before him, in the center of a knockout stage match.

It would be nothing short of what the 39-year-old referee from MLS would deserve.

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