NJ man 1st US referee in World Cup knockout rounds

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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) - Mark Geiger will become the first American to referee a knockout stage match at the World Cup.

The 39-year-old former math teacher from New Jersey was selected by FIFA to handle the France vs. Nigeria match on Monday in Brasilia.

Geiger, a Major League Soccer referee from Beachwood and his regular assistants, American Sean Hurd and Canadian Joe Fletcher, were announced for the round-of-16 game by FIFA on Saturday.

Geiger also worked Chile’s 2-0 win over Spain and Colombia’s 3-0 victory against Greece.

American referees at recent World Cups worked only group-stage matches: Vincent Mauro (Belgium-South Korea in 1990), Arturo Angeles (Argentina-Greece in 1994), Esse Baharmast (Spain-Nigeria and Brazil-Norway in 1998) and Brian Hall (Italy-Ecuador and England-Nigeria in 2002).

Geiger follows the U.S. into the second round: The Americans play Belgium in Salvador on Tuesday in the last of the group of 16 matches.

FIFA also picked Sandro Ricci of Brazil to referee Germany vs. Algeria on Monday in Porto Alegre. Ricci was the first World Cup referee to award a goal using goal-line technology, for France in its 3-0 win over Honduras.

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