When Brian Hall officiated a quarterfinal match between Brazil and Turkey in 2002, it was – and still is – the furthest an American referee had made it in a FIFA World Cup. He does not anticipate holding this record for much longer.
“Geiger will for sure surpass me,” Hall said confidently. “I think that yes, it is easy to say that he is in line for the final.”
The rise of soccer in the U.S. is something that Hall has taken note of, and according to him, it has not merely affected players of the game.
“Going back three or four World Cups, to ever think that an American referee could do a semifinal or final would’ve been a far stretch, just because of the way soccer in the U.S. was viewed at the time,” Hall said.
This is coming from a man who remembers when an American referee or player was taken less seriously at the international level. But those times are changing, and Geiger’s inclusion in the 2014 FIFA World Cup, alongside U.S. assistant referees Mark Hurd and Eric Borea, is a positive sign for both U.S. Soccer and the Professional Referee Organization.
“It really shows how far soccer has come in the United States,” Hall said. “I think it’s a huge testament to Major League Soccer and the quality of the league that we’re preparing referees for something like this on the world stage.”
To Hall, the USA’s presence in a World Cup is something to be celebrated, but not because it is a fluke or some unlikely occurrence.
“Geiger, Hurd and Orea, they are here for one reason – because they’ve shown over the last three years that they deserve to be here,” Hall said. “They had something special that has carried them here.”
While he sings the praises of those three referees, he knows as well as anyone the physical and mental test that they face in Brazil this summer. With this in mind, Hall had a few words of advice for his countrymen.
“I think the first thing is you have to come here and you have to have fun. This can be the most stressful time of your life,” Hall said.
He talked about how big of a challenge those four weeks can be for referees, and how it can remove them from their lives. Before the 2002 FIFA World Cup, Hall turned down a promotion at his job in preparation for the tournament. Most importantly, they must remember what got them the opportunity in the first place.
“Don’t change anything that got you here,” Hall said. “Don’t come here and try to be a different referee. Don’t come here and look for something you weren’t doing in the past.”
Hall is now a spokesman for PRO and is optimistic about the future of USA referees moving forward.
“I think because of the performance of [U.S.] referees and the performances of the teams, there is a great reflection on the level of soccer we have in the United States,” Hall said.