As countries spend the next year solidifying their place through qualification for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, referees from around the world also are continuing to stamp their presence for consideration at the global spectacle.
Among the group of prospects are Jair Marrufo and Mark Geiger, who were among 52 referees to take part in a seminar in late September in Zurich as part of a provisional “open list” of referee prospects for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Marrufo, an MLS referee since 2002 and a FIFA referee since 2007, was at this preparation stage prior to the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Though the El Paso, Texas, native and substitute teacher did not have the opportunity to travel to South Africa, the previous experience has helped him be more aware of what he needs to put into the procedure.
“I had the preparation experience going into 2010 and it was nice to be a part of that group with many referees who had great careers and were about to retire,” Marrufo said. “I learned a lot from that group. Coming into this one, I know what’s going to happen and don’t feel as new coming into the program. But I have to prove myself again. It’s not a walk in the park and it’s something that I want to be a part of in 2014. You have to do well in qualifier games, Champions League and domestically in MLS.”
The trip to Zurich included medical screenings, physical testing and classroom-like activities from watching videos to taking various tests on the laws of the game.
With many of the world’s top officials on board, it also provided a strong forum to focus on topics such as psychological and mental preparation and tackle various theoretical scenarios.
“It’s good to get different perspectives from all over the world,” Marrufo said. “In the sessions you talk about incidents and how to prevent certain situations from happening or talk about what’s the best way to approach a situation on the field. You talk about it in groups with referees from UEFA, South America, here in the U.S., and talk about it with the instructors and determine what the correct answer is. It’s really good, because sometimes you find that we’re on a different page.”
Earlier this year, Marrufo worked at CONCACAF Olympic qualifying at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., and he was the head official for Honduras’ semifinal overtime victory against El Salvador at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan.
The brunt of Marrufo’s focus has been MLS, and he has regularly had the opportunity to work some big league fixtures away from his home state.
“I’ve traveled quite a bit and have been a part of some big games, so I’m honored to have been chosen for games like the Seattle-Portland rivalry or LA Galaxy-San Jose,” Marrufo said. “I hope to continue to do well and show the bosses my best.”