By Jeff Carlisle
The head of the Professional Referee Organization, which is responsible for overseeing professional referee programs in North America, has issued a strong statement in support of embattled referee Mark Geiger.
Geiger oversaw Wednesday night’s Gold Cup semifinal between Mexico and Panama, and endured a highly controversial 120 minutes of action.
Geiger sent off Panama forward Luis Tejada in the 25th minute for what was deemed an elbow to the face of Mexico defender Francisco Rodriguez. He later awarded two penalties to Mexico that were converted by Andres Guardado, allowing El Tri to escape with a 2-1 extra-time victory.
The first penalty was especially contentious, coming in the 88th minute with Los Canaleros leading 1-0.
Panama defender Roman Torres was judged to have handled the ball in his own area, and the subsequent goal by Guardado allowed Mexico to equalize deep into stoppage time. At the final whistle, Geiger was surrounded by Panama players and staff and had to be escorted from the field by security.
But PRO general manager Peter Walton insisted that despite what took place in the match, he still has complete confidence in Geiger.
“One inconsistent performance does not make a referee a poor referee,” said Walton via email. “Geiger is a very good referee and has proved that on numerous occasions. PRO will fully support him and his standing with PRO has not been [affected] by this performance.”