Five officials from the Professional Referee Organzation (PRO) have been selected by the FIFA Referees Committee for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia, FIFA announced Thursday.
Referees Mark Geiger (pictured above) and Jair Marrufo and assistant referees Frank Anderson, Joe Fletcher and Corey Rockwell, all PRO officials with significant MLS and international experience, are among the 36 referees and 63 assistant referees who represent 46 different countries at this summer's tournament. The United States is the only country with two referees selected for the World Cup.
According to a release on FIFA.com, the selections were based “on each referee’s skills and personality, as well as his level of understanding of football and ability to read both the game and the various tactics employed by teams.”
Those picked will attend a two-week seminar next month at the technical center of the Italian Football Association in Coverciano, Italy. The officials will be divided into two groups and will include Video Assistant Referee (VAR) candidates, who will announced after the seminar.
There will be one additional 10-day seminar in Moscow just before the tournament kicks off.
Geiger and Marrufo were two of the six Concacaf-based referees chosen, while Anderson, Fletcher – the lone Canadian chosen – and Rockwell were among eight Concacaf assistant referees.
Geiger, who was named MLS Referee of the Year in 2011 and 2014 and Concacaf Referee of the Year in 2014, was also selected for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Marrufo, the 2008 MLS Referee of the Year, will participate in his first FIFA World Cup. He’s previously officiated in the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and a pair of U-17 World Cups.
Fletcher is also working his second consecutive World Cup, while Anderson, who was an AR for the 2017 MLS Cup, and Rockwell, who was named the MLS Assistant Referee of the Year in 2011, will each be part of their first FIFA World Cup.
PRO issued the following statement following the selection of its officials for the World Cup:
The Professional Referee Organization is extremely proud that the hard work and dedication of Mark, Jair, Frank, Joe, and Corey has been recognized and rewarded.
To be selected to officiate at a FIFA World Cup is not only a significant moment in the career of any official, but it is an opportunity earned by so few. To have five MLS officials selected is a clear indication of the growing reputation of match officials in North America, and is also an endorsement of the work done by PRO in recent years to train and develop the officiating group, supported by MLS, U.S. Soccer and The Canadian Soccer Association.
Here is the entire list of match officials.