Mark Geiger is representing the United States of America at the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The 43-year-old is officiating England v.s. Colombia in the second round of the tournament. Alongside Geiger, 43, are his assistants, Frank Anderson, from the U.S., Joe Fletcher from Canada and Mark Congler from New Zealand. The VAR referee is Holland’s Danny Makkelie.
Geiger, a resident of Pine Beach, New Jersey, was a math teacher before becoming a full-time referee in Major League Soccer in 2013. The England match represents Geiger’s biggest ever assignment at the World Cup. In 2014, Geiger refereed three games in Brazil. In addition, Geiger was the fourth official during Germany’s 7-1 victory over Brazil in the semifinals
At the time of writing, Geiger has been in charge of 83 Major League Soccer games in addition to multiple CONCACAF qualifying games, Olympic games and the Confederations Cup match-ups. The second round game is Geiger’s third 2018 World Cup game. He was in charge of Portugal’s 1-0 victory over Morocco and South Korea’s 2-0 win over Germany.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. In 2009, Geiger Won the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics & Science Teacher
According to the New Jersey state government, Geiger was awarded the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematic and Science Teaching. The tribute to Geiger’s work says that he had taught at the Lacey Township High School since 1995. Unsurprisingly, Geiger was also the assistant coach to the girl’s varsity soccer team. The piece reads, “Mark’s commitment to his students and education is evident in the classroom environment he creates each year and in the programs and activities in which he is involved. He is consistently looking for new and innovative ways to teach mathematics in order to make it relevant and to connect to each of his students. He is also involved with mentoring and educating his fellow teachers, passing on his experience and ideas for the betterment of the entire school community.”
Geiger is a graduate of the College of New Jersey with a degree in Mathematics and a minor in Spanish. He is a certified K-12 math teacher in New Jersey.
2. Geiger Was in Charge of Panama’s Infamous 2-1 Defeat to Mexico at the 2015 Gold Cup
In 2015, Geiger was in charge of the 2015 Gold Cup semi final match between Panama and Mexico. Mexico won the game 2-1 in controversial circumstances. An official statement from CONCACAF saw the association admit that Geiger made “officiating errors” during the match. One Panamanian newspaper ran with the headline, “F***ing Arbitro.” Their gripe was that one of their players had been sent off and a penalty had been wrongly given during the same passage of play. Panama Federation president Pedro Chaluja said that the game had been fixed following the decision.
In an interview with ESPN, Geiger admitted that if had access to VAR, he would have changed his decision. Geiger said that if he had access to a video replay, “I wouldn’t have lost a year of my life.”
3. Geiger’s Brother Said that the Referee Is ‘Usually Right About Everything’
When Geiger was selected by FIFA in 2014 to be the first American official at a World Cup finals since 2002, his brother, Steven, told the Washington Post his brother is the “one who feels he’s always right about everything, and he usually is.” The same story quoted Geiger’s boss at the Professional Referee Organization as saying, “I don’t think he’ll be making any mistakes. 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.” One of Geiger’s former students told the Post, “Fate and opportunity and preparation have paved the way for him to shine at this tournament. He’s got the chance to be the Howard Webb of the 2014 World Cup.” Howard Webb is the English referee who officiated the 2010 World Cup final between Spain and the Netherlands.
4. Geiger Described Being on the Same Field as James Rodriguez as ‘Being Spectacular’
After returning from the 2014 World Cup, Geiger told Sports Illustrated about being on the same field as James Rodriguez when the midfielder first made a name for himself against Greece. Geiger said, “James was absolutely amazing, and to be on the field with him was spectacular.” James Rodriguez is not even fit enough for the bench during Colombia’s second round game with England. The biggest game that Geiger officiated during that World Cup was Chile’s win over Spain, a win that eliminated the world champions. Gieger told SI, “The pressure we had going into that game was, I don’t want to say it was difficult to deal with, but we had to be extra careful that every decision we made was absolutely clear and correct. It was quite an experience.”
5. Geiger Says He Is Nicknamed ‘Sheldon’ in Reference to The Big Bang Theory Character
Source: Heavy Sports