MOSCOW: It’s official, United States referee Mark Geiger did not ask for Cristiano Ronaldo’s shirt after Portugal’s 1-0 win over win at Moscow Spartak on Wednesday writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

FIFA, the world governing body which keeps its comment about match officials to a bare minimum, has broken with policy to defend the 43-year-old from New Jersey after reports about events at the end of the first half of the Group B game.

Portugal’s 1-0 victory, through an early goal from Ronaldo, meant Morocco were eliminated even though they must still face Spain and their players were upset with some of Geiger’s decisions.

After the match Moroccocan winger Nordin Amrabat, from English Premier Leaue club Watford, told Dutch television channel NOS: “[The referee] was really impressed by Ronaldo and I heard from Pepe that he asked for his jersey in the first half. What are we talking about? At the World Cup? It’s not a circus here.”

FIFA refuted the claim.

A statement said: “It is with regret and disappointment that FIFA has learned of reports in the media concerning the referee Mark Geiger. It has been claimed that Mr Geiger asked for the shirt of the captain of Portugal during the half-time interval.

“Mr Geiger strongly refutes these claims and categorically states that such a request was not made.

“FIFA unequivocally condemns the allegations supposedly made by a member of the Moroccan team. FIFA referees are under clear instructions with regard to their behaviour and relationship with the teams and it can be confirmed that Mr Geiger has acted in an exemplary manner.”

One certain incident which went unpunished occurred in the final minutes of the match when Portugal defender Pepe collapsed dramatically clutching his head after being patted lightly on the back by Morocco captain Medhi Benatia.

FIFA said before the game that off-the-ball incidents missed by the referee could be subject, thanks to video refereeing coverage, to retrospective disciplinary action.