MOSCOW — Soccer’s international governing body has cleared U.S. referee Mark Geiger of wrongdoing, dismissing a Moroccan claim that the American asked for a Portuguese player’s jersey.
Morocco’s Nordin Amrabat made the accusation after a 1-0 defeat Wednesday at Luzhniki Stadium.
“FIFA unequivocally condemns the allegations supposedly made by a member of the Moroccan team,” a FIFA spokesman told The Washington Post on Thursday. “FIFA referees are under clear instructions with regard to their behavior and relationship with the teams and it can be confirmed that Mr. Geiger has acted in an exemplary and professional manner as an appointed match official.
“FIFA would like to remind teams of their duty to respect all principles” of sportsmanship.
The spokesman added: “Mr. Geiger strongly refutes these claims and categorically states that such a request was not made.”
World Cup referees are not made available to comment. FIFA had previously announced plans to conduct a news conference after the group stage to discuss officiating in general and particularly the use of video replay.
On Thursday, Geiger kept his assignment as the video assistant referee for Thursday’s Denmark-Australia match in Samara.
The Moroccan team was not pleased with Geiger, complaining about several decisions and claiming Cristiano Ronaldo’s early goal should’ve been disallowed because of what it said was a foul on Portuguese defender Pepe.
Amrabat told Dutch TV’s NOS that Geirger “very impressed by Cristiano Ronaldo, and I hear from Pepe that [Geiger] asked [Ronaldo] in the first half if he should have [Pepe’s] shirt. What are we talking about? At the World Cup? It’s not a circus here.”
It’s common for players to exchange jerseys after a match, or arrange such a swap ahead of time. Referees, however, are required to maintain impartiality at all times.
Geiger, 43, has been a FIFA referee since 2008 and an MLS official since 2004. He was the head referee for three matches at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
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