England vs Colombia referee in controversial performance as World Cup 2018 last-16 clash descends into chaos

England 1-1 Colombia (England win 4-3 on penalties): Mark Geiger appeared to lose control of both sets of players for a large portion of England’s match against Colombia

Jack de Menezes
Thursday 05 July 2018 07:05 BST
Video replays show one of the Colombian coaches appearing to deliberately barge into Raheem Sterling as he jogs off for half-time

England managed to negotiate a hazardous last-16 tie with Colombia to reach the World Cup quarter-finals, but the performance of referee Mark Geiger left players and fans alike bemused as he appeared to lose complete control on proceedings.

The magnitude of the game was in no doubt, with the winner progressing to Saturday’s quarter-final against Sweden and the loser heading home, their World Cup dreams left in ruins.

For much of the game inside the Spartak Stadium in Moscow, which one of the teams would fit those two options looked as unclear as they come as Colombia were able to drag England into something that resembled a fist-fight – which ironically threatened to actually break out at certain pressure moments.

The game first turned ugly when Juan Cuadrado shoulder barged Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson, infuriating the England midfielder in a spat that would rumble on throughout. The second flare-up came soon after as Colombia midfielder Wilmar Barrios appeared to aim a tame-yet-deliberate headbutt into Henderson’s chest, adding a second touch towards his neck for good measure.

Having seen the incident, Henderson’s teammates complained to Geiger, while the substitutes and backroom staff in the dug-out protested to the fourth official on the sideline. He clearly spoke to Geiger over their communications system, while the intervention of the Video Assistant Referee [WAR] was also a possibility, but despite the incident being clearly seen by television cameras Barrios was shown only a yellow card.

Colombia players surround referee Mark Geiger

The failure to issue a red card left England bemused, and appeared to trigger the next flare-up. At half-time, with tempers running red-hot, Raheem Sterling appeared to be on the end of a deliberate elbow from one of the Colombian coaching staff as he jogged towards the tunnel, yet Geiger once again failed to take the appropriate action as he gave him a verbal warning and nothing more.

Radamel Falcao confronts Mark Geiger during Colombia's game against England

The second half continued in similar fashion when Geiger’ elected to award England a penalty in the 54th minute. Kane was hauled down by Colombia defender Carlos Sanchez, but a fierce protest from the South American side delayed Kane’s penalty effort for a total of three minutes and 26 seconds.

During that time, both Sanchez and striker Radamel Falcao aggressively confronted Geiger, yet the referee booked Henderson for his apparent headbutt during the melee. While all this was going on, a number of Colombian players appeared to deliberately scuff up the penalty spot, leaving Kane with a mess to place the ball on for his shot at goal.

The anger between the players continued and what followed was a stream of bookings – seven in total by the end of normal time – with Falcao, Barrios, and Sanchez all lucky to remain on the pitch as well as Jesse Lingard, given he appeared to dive shortly after being shown a yellow card.

Colombia players confront referee Mark Geiger after he awarded England a penalty

Geiger has previously attracted criticism for his performance in the 2015 Gold Cup, when in the semi-final between Mexico and Panama he sent off veteran Panamanian striker Luis Tedaja in controversial circumstances and awarded Mexico not one but two penalties.

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