Major League Soccer
US Soccer

Eric Boria’s Brazilian experience

July 29, 2014

Eric Boria at the Arena Pantanal in Cuiaba

The success of the USMNT and PRO at the 2014 FIFA World Cup has been well documented, representing North American soccer in a positive way on the world’s biggest stage.

The USMNT reached the Round of 16, with a victory over Ghana, a draw with Portugal and a narrow defeat against Germany, before a spirited display in a 2-1 loss to a top Belgian side in the knockout stage.

Then there was the PRO refereeing crew of Mark Geiger, Sean Hurd and Canadian Joe Fletcher. Geiger became the first American to referee beyond the group stages of a World Cup and, alongside Hurd, was involved in the semi-final clash between Brazil and Germany.

But it doesn’t end there.

PRO was also represented in Brazil by assistant referee Eric Boria as one half of a refereeing support duo with Panama’s Roberto Moreno.

“The World Cup was such a fantastic learning experience. For it to be in Brazil where the people live and breathe soccer was just amazing. It was memorable to say the least,” Boria told

“My father and I got into refereeing together back in 1988 when I was 13. I worked at the recreational level for many years, but around 2004 I earned a few opportunities and took it much more seriously, which led to more tournaments. I made it professional in 2008 and made the FIFA panel in 2011. 

“It’s been a continuous learning process ever since. To have now been involved in four games at the World Cup is very rewarding.”

Boria, from Chicago, had the chance to work as a reserve assistant in all the World Cup games in the host city Cuiaba at the Arena Pantanal: Chile-Australia, Russia-South Korea, Nigeria-Bosnia and Herzegovina and Japan-Colombia.

In those four games, the 39-year-old officiated alongside four different crews - experience that is both helpful and welcomed by the MLS assistant referee.

Eric Boria with fellow FIFA officials in Cuiaba

“With the World Cup, like other tournaments, you never come out the same as you went in because you learn so much. It was a great experience and the perfect opportunity to work closely with and learn from referee crews from across the globe. 

“It was interesting to observe how your colleagues from different cultures prepare for the game in such a similar manner, yet differently.

“The benefit is that you can take the good examples from other referees and incorporate that into your own training. I’m grateful to have had that experience.

“It made me especially happy to have been there to observe Mark, Sean and Joe make history. They were the first crew with a United States referee that took charge of a Round of 16 game, and that was truly historic.

“I was proud to witness such a milestone. It was well deserved and will open the way for U.S. referees in the future. These are very exciting times for North American soccer.”

Having worked his first MLS game in April 2008, Boria is now into his seventh season at the top, with almost 100 assignments to his name.

His journey since then has taken in the US Open Cup Final in 2011, the 2013 Gold Cup and the FIFA U-17 World Cup, also last year, but for Boria it’s not just about the major tournaments.

“I’ve been to the World Cup, and that was great, but now it is over. I am back and have many important games to focus on. There is much work yet to be done. I intend to apply everything I have learned to improve mentally, physically, and technically.

“For example, my father, Luigino, referees more than I do – he’s always indoors or outdoors working games. Having started my career with him, I was delighted to have joined up with him again at a local, city of Hammond tournament where we got to work at the youth and amateur level.

“That was a bit different from the World Cup, but another great experience. Refereeing is a skill that you get to apply in every soccer game. For those who love soccer, there is no small or big tournament. You are there for the love of the game.”

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