Mark Geiger (USA) and teammates Sean Hurd (USA) and Joe Fletcher (CAN) turned in a third very good performance in the World Cup Round of 16 match between France and Nigeria. Mr Geiger’s fitness and presence were second to none and the offside decisions by the assistant referees were all 100% correct.
There was only one caution in the match, to France midfielder Blaise Matuidi in the 54th minute, for a challenge against Nigeria midfielder Onazi. Referee Geiger was about three meters away from the challenge and immediately reached for his yellow card.
For consideration in this case study is whether this challenge was indeed “reckless” as decided by Geiger, or perhaps might have been executed with “excessive force”, which would require a send-off.
I think all would agree that this foul goes beyond “careless” and must be either “reckless” or done with “excessive force”.
Consider the following factors about this challenge:
- It is a “50/50” (no player has control of the ball prior to the challenge)
- The France player does not go “over the ball” when making the challenge
- There was a reasonable chance that France player could win the challenge
- The challenge is a split-second late (about 4 video frames or roughly .13 second)
Finally, consider the reaction of the Nigeria players. There is no mass confrontation, no gesturing for a send off, not even a cross word to the referee (that we can see). Based on what we see, they fully accept the decision of the referee.
Could this challenge have resulted in a send off? Clearly, we can answer in the affirmative, and I don’t think many would argue, especially after seeing the replays. This is a case where “in the opinion of the referee” applies.
Whether Signor Busacca agrees remains to be seen.