American referee Mark Geiger has received criticism for how he managed the physicality between Colombia and England in their World Cup Round of 16 match on Tuesday. Some of that criticism has come from the parties involved.
Geiger handed out six yellow cards to Colombian players – including to Falcao in the 63rd minute – and whistled them for 23 fouls. He awarded England a penalty in the 57th minute that Harry Kane buried for England’s lead. Meanwhile, England players were only shown two yellow cards and called them for 13 fouls.
“The referee disturbed us a lot,” Colombia striker Falcao said after the match. “In the 50-50 plays, he always made the calls in favor of England. He didn’t act with the same criteria for both teams. When in doubt, he always went to the England side.”
The criticism from Falcao is slightly odd given how much Colombia looked to cause havoc with its physical play, hoping to muck up the game with the South American side missing playmaker James Rodriguez due to injury. In fact, it seemed Geiger could have punished them further at times, especially during the four minutes between the penalty decision and Kane’s attempt from the spot when Colombian players surrounded Geiger protesting furiously. Geiger did not caution a single Colombian player during the fracas.
On social media, Geiger was often criticized for losing control of the match as it seemingly devolved into a 90 minute wrestling match.
But that’s not all Falcao had to say about the American referee’s match assignment. “I found it peculiar that they put an American referee in this instance. To tell you the truth, the process leaves a lot of doubts,” he added.
Falcao was not the only one to question FIFA’s decision to appoint an American to referee the match. Outspoken Argentinian legend Diego Maradona, who was spotted wearing a Colombia jersey during the match and celebrated their late goal, said after the match, “Here’s a gentleman who decides, a referee who, if you Google him, shouldn’t be given a match of this magnitude… Geiger, an American, what a coincidence.”