The Only U.S. Referee At The World Cup Is A Former Math Teacher From New Jersey

  • Eric Goldschein

referee geigerU.S. soccer players may not garner a lot of respect on the international stage, but there’s one American referee who proved himself worthy of appearing on the big stage. Meet Mark Geiger, the first U.S. ref chosen to work a World Cup game since 2002. He used to be a math teacher in Ocean County, N.J. He no doubt makes Chris Christie very proud.

It’s even tougher to qualify for the Cup as a ref than as a national team — only 25 were selected by FIFA, and Geiger’s squad (includes assistants Sean Hurd and Joe Fletcher) made the cut among nine Europeans, five South Americans, four Asians, three apiece from North/Central America/the Caribbean and Africa, and one from Oceania.

Geiger’s been reffing since he was 13 in order to “earn a few extra dollars.” The 39-year-old talked about wanting to work a World Cup for years, even as he taught AP Calculus at Lacey Township High. Less than a year after leaving teaching to ref full time, he got the call to work the 2014 tournament.

FIFA has a profile of Geiger, and the NY Daily News has a long write-up about him. We’ll see if he becomes the first American ref to work past the group stage next week.

Check out this video from when Geiger was still mathing it up in Jersey:

Geiger reffed Colombia-Greece and today’s Spain-Chile match.