Case Study: In Praise of Mark Geiger's Olympic Send-Off

Case Study # 1-2012
Date 26 Jul 2012
Competition Olympic Men’s Football Group Stage
Fixture/Result Spain 0 – 1 Japan
Referee/Badge Mark Geiger (USA), FIFA
At Issue A confident decision to send off Spain defender Inigo Martinez is facilitated by Geiger’s mastery of fundamentals

I don’t normally comment on the peformance of professional level referees in this space. For one, as a Grade 7 referee, I’m simply not qualified. And furthermore, there are blogs that handle this area much better than I ever could.

That being said, I was very impressed with Mark Geiger’s (USA) performance as the referee in the Spain v Japan match during group play.

It occurs to me that one of the things that separates the truly elite level referees from the rest of us is that they generally follow proscribed procedures – although not mechnically so – and therefore always get the “little things” right.

Take for example, Geiger’s handling of the send-off of Spain defender Inigo Martinez in the 41st minute of the match. After you see the replay – or my screen grabs below – it is very clear that this send-off was absolutely correct. Martinez was clearly the last defender, clearly fouls the attacker, who had possession of the ball, was moving toward goal, and had a golden opportunity to put Japan up 2-0.

Notice how this call was made “easy” because Geiger did all of the little things correctly.  Take his positioning, for example. He is in absolutely the right position to see the foul. Once he sees the contact, he moves from jog to sprint. And finally, and most impressively, the decision to send off the defender is made quickly. In the last frame, notice that while the Japan attacker hasn’t gone all the way to the ground, Geiger is already reaching for his back pocket.

Well done, Mr. Geiger. Not only was your decision spot on, but you set a textbook example for the referee community at large.

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