- About PRO
From this summer, Brazil will be the latest nation added to the globetrotting checklist of Mark Geiger.
Having officiated in Morocco, Colombia and England in recent seasons, his next check-in will be in South America in June.
Back in January, the man from Beachwood, New Jersey, was told he had been assigned to soccer’s showpiece event, the FIFA World Cup, and for Geiger, that will be the pinnacle of a professional officiating career that is about to enter its 11th season.
He told proreferees.com: “I grew up watching the World Cups, but I only started out refereeing as a teenager to make a few extra dollars.
“It was a hobby that I immediately enjoyed doing, and for any referee or player the dream is to make it to a World Cup.
“I have been given the opportunity and it will undoubtedly be a highlight for me, that's for sure.”
In 2011, Geiger was in Colombia for the FIFA U-20 World Cup, followed by the London Olympic Games in 2012, and last year he was assigned to the 2013 FIFA Club World Cup.
Having also been awarded the Major League Soccer Referee of the Year Award in 2011, it has been a hugely successful few years for the American official, since the last World Cup in South Africa in 2010.
While the USA were represented on the pitch in that tournament, it was the second World Cup in succession without any officials from the States.
And when Geiger takes to the field for his first match this June, he will break a 12-year absence since Brian Hall was involved in South Korea and Japan in 2002.
“Any time we are involved outside of the US we know we are representing the sport for the country, the MLS, and PRO,” Geiger added.
FIFA’s refereeing project for the World Cup began back in September 2011 when 52 trios from around the world were initially selected, but that was reduced to just 25 in January.
Geiger, Hurd and Fletcher were selected as one trio from that list and will be one of only three teams of officials from the CONCACAF association at the tournament in Brazil.
They officiated together at the Club World Cup in November and epitomize the team-work of soccer officiating crews.
“FIFA is six hours ahead of me, so I got the email from them in the middle of the night. When I woke up and saw the news I immediately called Sean and Joe to check they were seeing the same thing that I was seeing.
“My eyes can be a bit blurry at that time of the morning, but when it was confirmed I soon started calling my friends and family.”
The upcoming 2014 season will be Geiger’s 11th in MLS, having made his debut in May 2004 when Columbus Crew played San Jose Earthquakes.
And the 39-year-old thanks PRO for making 2013 extra special, allowing him to put his math teaching duties in New Jersey to one side.
“I am still involved with the school. For the past year I’ve been an assistant coach with the cross country and track program at Lacey Township High School.
“But being under a contract at PRO has assisted me in focusing 100% on refereeing and soccer, which has massively helped in my preparation.
“It means I can fully concentrate on pre-season and working towards the start of the regular season, as I’m doing now. By the time the World Cup arrives I’ll hopefully be in full swing.
“I keep having mental images of what it will be like walking out for my first assignment at the tournament.
“The people of Brazil are so passionate about soccer and there will be fans from all over the world so I can’t wait.
“I am fully aware that no American official has ever refereed beyond the group stages, but we are just looking to perform well as a trio and avoid controversy.
“If we do, hopefully we can progress into the knockout stages, and let’s hope the American soccer team can join us.”