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Former Math Teacher From New Jersey Shining As Referee At World Cup

Mark Geiger Draws Rave Reviews From Family And Friends As Tournament Continues
Chile midfielder Arturo Vidal, right, receives a yellow card from American referee Mark Geiger during a World Cup Group B match between Spain and Chile in the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on June 18, 2014. (CHRISTOPHE SIMON/AFP/Getty Images)

Chile midfielder Arturo Vidal, right, receives a yellow card from American referee Mark Geiger during a World Cup Group B match between Spain and Chile in the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on June 18, 2014. (CHRISTOPHE SIMON/AFP/Getty Images)

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LACEY TOWNSHIP, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A former teacher from New Jersey is becoming an instant celebrity at the World Cup in Brazil.

Family and friends are watching his every move as he referees some of the soccer matches, CBS 2’s Christine Sloan reported Friday.

Mark Geiger, 39, is being noticed internationally, refereeing soccer matches at the World Cup. He worked the Group C opener between Colombia and Greece before refereeing Wednesday’s Group B match between defending champion Spain and Chile.

His brother said he is very proud.

“On this stage it is absolutely a dream for him. It’s been great for us to be able to watch him at the World Cup,” Steve Geiger said. “We have tried not to talk to him, so his focus is on the game and the job at hand.”

Mark Geiger is a nationally recognized math teacher at Lacey Township High School, winning a Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching in 2009. Pictures of him are on the walls, but he had to give up his job last year to follow his dream.

“He knew it was going to be a tough decision. It is hard to leave. His heart was here, but it was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up,” Lacey High Principal Jim Handschuch said.

When asked what kind of a person Mark Geiger is, assistant superintendent Vanessa Clark said, “Outgoing, smart, kids love him. And he is dedicated to teaching.”

“He’s always been very sure of himself, of what he can do, and it is coming through in how calm and collected he is on the field,” Steve Geiger added.

Before leaving the high school, Mark Geiger was actually a track and field coach, Sloan reported.

“He’s a specimen … if that’s the right word to say,” athletic director Karen Hughes said. “He is a chiseled, handsome young man who I think fits the part. And to see where he is right now, it is so fitting.”

Steve Geiger said his brother won’t know what match he’ll referee until a couple of days beforehand, adding everyone is rooting for him to be picked for the final on July 13 at Estádio Maracanã in Rio de Janeiro. Noted soccer commentators have said Mark Geiger getting the ultimate match is possible considering how little controversy has resulted from his decisions so far.

Mark Geiger also refereed at the London Olympic Games in 2012 and has spent 11 years in Major League Soccer. He was the league’s Referee of the Year in 2011.

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