USA referee Mark Geiger is preparing for his first FIFA World Cup match in the center when Colombia and Greece square off in Group C play on Saturday at Estadio Mineirao in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
The 39-year-old New Jersey native and FIFA referee since 2008 will head a referee crew that also includes assistant referee and Florida native Sean Hurd. Hurd and Geiger worked the 2011 FIFA U-20 World Cup, and both are participating in their first men’s World Cup.
For Geiger, he will become the first American referee to work a World Cup match since Brian Hall in 2002, and he is looking forward to the moment.
“The preparation so far has been going very well,” Geiger said. “It’s been a very intense process over the past few years being part of the prospective group of referees and now as a selected referee. The tournaments, the seminars and the training that we’ve done on the field and in the classroom have been absolutely incredible. We’ve learned a lot over the past few years, and we’re looking forward to bring in what we’ve learned onto the pitch.”
Geiger, a former math teacher, has been able to focus primarily on refereeing for the past year in preparation for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
“I’ve been very fortunate for the past year that I’ve been able to dedicate myself full-time to refereeing,” Geiger said. “The other side of my life has been mathematics, and I spent 17 years as a high school math teacher, and the past year, now that I’m not teaching anymore, I’ve still been in contact with Lacey Township High School as an assistant cross country and track coach with my brother.”
Geiger was the 2011 Major League Soccer Referee of the Year and he participated in the 2012 Olympics in London.
Colombia is the No. 8-ranked team in the world by FIFA and Greece is currently ranked No. 12.