Major League Soccer will have a presence at next month's FIFA Club World Cup after all. Sort of.
A three-man crew from the Professional Referee Organization — the governing arm that oversees officiating at the professional level in the United States and Canada — has been selected to officiate matches at the international club championship, PRO announced on Monday.
Referee Mark Geiger (above) and assistant referees Sean Hurd and Joe Fletcher were selected to take part in the event, which takes place Dec. 11-21 in Morocco. The crew, which worked in the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 2011 and the Olympic Games in England in 2012, will be one of five officiating crews at the annual knockout tournament.
"PRO is honored to have three of its officials chosen for the Club World Cup," PRO general manager Peter Walton told MLSsoccer.com. "It is great news for the individuals and also a reflection of the overall quality of officials we have in PRO. I am sure they will perform at the highest levels amongst some of the world's best club sides."
The competition, which pits the winners of the AFC Champions League, CAF Champions League, CONCACAF Champions League, Copa Libertadores, OFC Champions League and UEFA Champions League, along with the host nation's national champions, is to determine the world's best club team.
Thus far, Bayern Munich (Germany), Raja Club Athletic (Morocco), Monterrey (Mexico), Auckland City (New Zealand) and Atlético Mineiro (Brazil) have qualified for the tournament, with CAF and AFC participants to be determined in the next week.
The crew is slated to arrive in Marrakech, Morocco, on Dec. 4 for meetings and a physical fitness test. Goal-line technology will be used for the first time in the tournament.