The Honduran national team is battling for a final Group A berth to the Hexagonal round in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, and they are concerned about the referee assigned to their fourth-round finale Tuesday against Mexico.
American Mark Geiger, who officiates games in MLS in addition to his international duties, was appointed the referee for Tuesday's game at Estadio Azteca (10 pm ET; FS1, Univision, UDN). That didn't sit well with Honduras, who filed an official petition to FIFA last week asking for Geiger to be taken off the game, citing a 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup match between Mexico and Panama to justify the switch.
“Mr. Geiger committed major errors that favored the Mexican national team and meant the elimination of a Central American team," the official letter reportedly said. "The pressure that will be put on a central official in a stadium with a capacity of more than 100,000 people will be much greater than that from Mexican fans in the United States who were at the Mexico vs. Panama game."
According to Jose Ernesto Mejia, secretary of the Honduran National Football Federation, the request was denied, with FIFA confirming Geiger will be the center official for the game.
The game referenced in the petition was a 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinal between Mexico and Panama. Geiger, the 2014 MLS Referee of the Year, awarded two controversial penalties to Mexico late in the match in what ended up a 2-1 win for El Tri. In the aftermath of the game, CONCACAF expressed "regret" at the "officiating errors" made by Geiger.
Mexico have clinched qualification to the Hexagonal round in World Cup qualifying, with Honduras needing to finish ahead of Canada in the Group A standings to book their spot in the final six. Los Catrachos currently hold the edge with a three-point lead over Canada ahead of Tuesday's matchday.