The talk of the day on Wednesday was the 2018 FIFA World Cup match between Portugal and Morocco. The match featured a predominantly North American referee crew with Major League Soccer referee Mark Geiger in the middle.
Controversy Arises After Portugal-Morocco World Cup Match, Courtesy of Mark Geiger
Geiger was the center of attention during Portugal’s 1-0 win for missed or non-calls. But according to Morocco forward Nordin Amrabat, Geiger tried to pursue the jersey off of Portugal defender Pepe at the half.
Amrabat claimed that Geiger made it known in the first half that he was looking to snag the jersey at the end of the match.
Amrabat told Dutch Television in a statement, “I do not know what he is used to. But he was very impressed with Cristiano Ronaldo and I hear from Pepe that he asked (Ronaldo) in the first half if he could have (Pepe’s) shirt.”
The claims had not been addressed by FIFA directly after the match, but world soccer’s governing body made a statement the next day.
Claims Refuted by FIFA
— FIFA Media (@fifamedia) June 21, 2018
Players often exchange shirts at the end of games. Match officials are forbidden from participating in the exchange as they are to follow a strict code of conduct.
Geiger is one of the best officials in MLS. He recently appeared in matches during the 2012 Olympics, and the 2014 FIFA World Cup held in Brazil. The match between Morocco and Portugal was his first assignment of the tournament.
Geiger isn’t the only American official in this year’s World Cup. Center official Jair Marrufo and assistant Corey Rockwell are joining him in Russia. Canadian assistant Joe Fletcher is also helping out.
Geiger and Fletcher served as assistant video referees in Brazil’s 2-0 win over Costa Rica.
Marrufo and Rockwell are to make their debuts at the 2018 FIFA World Cup this coming Saturday as Belgium faceoff against Tunisia. Marrufo will man the center and Rockwell will function as one of his assistants.