The most... let’s say well know American referee Mark Geiger has retired from officiating matches to take on a new role with the Professional Referee Organization. His career spanned over 20 years and included reffing at the highest level with two World Cups to his name. The official will take on the job of Director of Senior Match Officials according to PRO.
Geiger received several accolades in his career and was awarded Referee of the Year twice by MLS. However, he also oversaw some controversial matches in which his decisions were under the microscope including the infamous “CONCACAF LADRONES” 2015 Gold Cup semi-final between Mexico and Panama.
However, PRO General Manager Howard Webb had more kind words to say of Geiger:
“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.”
As soccer expands in the US, or at least as MLS relentlessly adds teams and markets to the league, improving the officiating will be crucial in order to ensure that the sport continues to grow in popularity. Looking back at 2018 from the standpoint of refereeing, the year was an uneven one in MLS. The league rolled out VAR to much derision with reviews taking upwards of five minutes and even saw a red card that was given after video replay rescinded by the league. However, after the early weeks of long delays and seemingly excessive use of the technology, the number of replays dropped and the time it took to review them was also reduced.
Geiger will be tasked with ensuring that refs raise their game rather than become the center of attention in matches they oversee.