Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Mark Geiger named PRO Director of Senior Match Officials

The Professional Referee Organization has announced that Mark Geiger, one of the most heralded U.S. referees over the past two decades, has been appointed as Director of Senior Match Officials. He will oversee the work of officials operating at the Major League Soccer level with immediate effect.
The new role will see the two-time MLS Referee of the Year Geiger retire from refereeing to join PRO’s management team after an illustrious 21-year career that saw him officiate at two FIFA World Cups, three Concacaf Gold Cups and the Olympic Games.

As Director of Senior Match Officials, Geiger will lead a team of staff who are responsible for the coaching education and continual improvement of on-field and video match officials who work in MLS.

“Having worked games in MLS for 15 years and internationally for 11, I felt it was time for me both personally and professionally to hang up my whistle and boots and start this new chapter,” the New Jersey native said.

“I am extremely excited to join a team that is so dedicated and committed to improving the standards of refereeing in North America. I hope that my experiences will help our referees excel and take their individual games to the next level.”

Geiger first took charge of an MLS game back in May 2004 when Columbus Crew SC hosted San Jose Earthquakes, and he went on to referee 186 regular season games in MLS, plus showpiece games including the MLS Cup between LA Galaxy and New England Revolution in 2014.

That same year he was named as both the Concacaf Referee of the Year and MLS Referee of the Year (for the second time) after appearing at his first World Cup in Brazil, where he became the first American to referee a knockout stage match, as well as being the fourth official for the World Cup semi-final between Brazil and Germany.

At last year’s World Cup, he refereed a further three games and had an additional eight assignments as Video Assistant Referee (VAR) or Assistant Video Assistant Referee (AVAR). His final assignment as a center official was an MLS Western Conference Championship Second Leg and he signed off last month as an AVAR at the 2018 FIFA Club World Cup Final in Abu Dhabi.

PRO General Manager Howard Webb added: “I’m delighted to have somebody of Mark’s caliber joining the PRO management team after he decided to call time on a truly wonderful active career. Mark is a man of huge integrity and has enormous pride in the work he does. These are qualities which make him ideal for a senior role in PRO.

“He has been a trailblazer for American officiating on the international stage and his achievements have helped to raise the credibility of our program globally.

“The experience and knowledge he has acquired in reaching such a high level will be extremely valuable as we look to continually raise the standard of our officials.”

Major League Soccer accomplishments:
MLS Referee of the Year (2x) – 2011 and 2014
MLS Cup (2x) – 2008 (fourth official) and 2014 (referee)

FIFA accomplishments:
FIFA World Cup (2x) – 2014 and 2018
FIFA Club World Cup (4x) – 2013, 2016, 2017 and 2018
FIFA U-20 World Cup – 2011
FIFA Confederations Cup – 2017
FIFA panel – 2008-present

Additional international accomplishments:
Olympic Games – 2012
Concacaf Referee of the Year – 2014
Concacaf Gold Cup (3x) – 2013, 2015 and 2017
Copa America – 2016



  1. Congratulations to Mark Gegier for his excellent career at international level, for sure he was among the candidates for something very big at last WC. He has been at the very top in the last 5 years. And now a deserved managerial role. Just one particular thing: this news has come a few days after his confirmation on FIFA list for 2019, this means that the final decision has been taken only in these days, before that he was not still sure. Another referee could have replaced him on the list.

  2. USSF Referee Committee is quite poor at FIFA selection. Without diving into too many details, Brian Hall unfortunately plays an outsize role and has prevented some people from making the list. I say that because there would not have been a referee to replace Geiger anyway. The US used to have 10 referees. We now have 4 (nominated 5). It's an entirely separate discussion from this, but just wanted to point it out.

    My understanding is that you are correct and the decision was made after the US sent its nominations. My best guess is that Webb approached Geiger about the job in October or so and he made his decision in the last six weeks. That's just a guess--I could be off a little.

    I suspect you will see Geiger take on a big role in VAR instruction. He is the only former World Cup VAR who will be managing referees in a VAR league. He's a two-time World Cup referee. He speaks perfect English. And he's a teacher by profession. I think Geiger will be at the forefront of the VAR profession at the FIFA level in 2022 and 2026.

    1. So does this by default make Maruffo the new "top dog"?
      And after Maruffo, who do you see as the next "big thing"?

      Based on what I've seen the last few seasons in MLS and USL. The only one that I somewhat see a future for at International level is Ismail Elfath.

      And yeah, for many years and from many referee's, I've heard similar grumblings about Brian Hall. Shame that referee who was so good on the pitch is so lousy in an administrative role.

    2. I don't watch too much MLS so forgive me if I am wrong. But I was under the impression that Nima Saghafi was next young, up and coming referee in the US.

    3. He's got the young part. But the "up and coming", not so much. IMO

    4. Marrufo is the top dog. My understanding is that Collina and Busacca have asked him to pursue 2022 with Rockwell (who will stay on past 45) and Frank Anderson. That will be the US crew in 2022, barring disaster.

      Elfath and Villarreal will both have an outside shot at 2022 (particularly if it expands to 48 teams), but I don't think either one has what it takes.

      Villarreal is younger and very good technically. Of the two, I think he has the better shot personally. Geiger once told people (back in 2014) that he thought Villarreal would be the one to follow him. But he's had a rough couple years in MLS. He's young (age 33) so there's plenty of time to fix things. He could be the US rep at 2026 if he does. Otherwise, people will move on.

      Elfath impresses many. He is a former player (at a decent level) and has some decent soft skills. He has certainly got better over the past few years. But he makes LOTG mistakes. Major mistakes. He once awarded a throw-in to the other team because the team in possession wasted time (rather than cautioning the player for delaying the restart, as appropriate). I've seen other incidents. The fact of the matter is he was pushed VERY fast. I believe it was 4 years from when he first refereed a game until he entered MLS. And, in that rapid rise, he didn't accrue the technical aspects and knowledge of refereeing that elite referees need to possess. So Elfath is capable, but he's also risky. I suspect his deficiencies will get exposed at the FIFA level, which is why I rate Villarreal slightly higher for the future (plus the age gap). But I don't think either one of them will perform at a level like Geiger or Marrufo.

      Penso could have been one for the future. Of the American referees who are still in their 30s, I think he is the biggest talent. But Hall does not like him. My understanding is that, in his role at CONCACAF, he simply told the US committee that Penso would not get assignments even if nominated. And that was the end of that. It's unfortunate. Personal politics trumping merit.

      Saghafi was, indeed, supposed to be on the 2019 FIFA list. He did our National (Open) Cup Final this year. My understanding is that he made an off-field error at some sort of clinic--I don't know all the details, but either CONCACAF or FIFA bigwigs were in attendance and not impressed. So he was punished and did not get put on the list this year. I suspect he will be on it for 2020.

      After that? Nothing. Unless there is a course reversal on Penso, there is no current MLS referee who is easily identified as the next FIFA and certainly not as the next "big thing." It's too bad. We should have a much larger list. But poor planning and politics has left us where we are right now. The next generation--referees who are in USL and just getting to MLS--will have to fix it in the 2021-2025 range.

  3. It's also worth noting that Canadian AR Joe Fletcher has also retired. Not sure you'll see a similar announcement from PRO--maybe from the CSA.

  4. OT in PSG - Guingamp (Coupe de la Ligue) Bastien whistled three penalties against PSG and then Verratti, Cavani and Neymar were booked in the last minutes. It would be interesting to have some videos... since there was VAR, I assume all the decisions were absolutely right.

    1. 1st penalty:

      2nd penalty:

      3rd penalty:

    2. An OFR was made for 2nd penalty:

    3. PSG players were angry at the end after a penalty appeal for handball. It results in 3 YC for protests (Sorry i don't have the beginning of the action):

    4. Thank you, in my opinion first penalty is very clear, the second one absolutely OK if you whistle it, but I have some doubts about the third. True that there is the contact, but I'm not convinced by attacker's movements. I would have liked more an OFR in the third case than in the second one, but I can understand the reason behind that.

    5. Surely not a deliberate handball...

    6. The first YC for Verratti was for simulation:

    7. I disagree on the second one. Both make contact with eachother and both lose their balance. The defender accidentally becuase of the opponents tackle loses his balance on him. How is this being careless?

  5. OT:

    A quite interesting case happened in Spanish 3rd Division (around 2-3 months ago).

    How would you react if you see that kind of "offence" against medical staff? Referee decided a YC (it was 2nd YC + RC). Which would be the best decision?

    Don't look at the small confrontation, look at the water bottle.

    1. No straight red but you could go for 2 yellows becuase he grabbed it in a disrespectful way and also pored it on his back. Two unsporting conducts.

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