On Friday, Costa Rica lost to the United States 1-0 in one of the final games of World Cup qualifying. They’re not just unhappy that they lost – they’re unhappy that the game was finished at all. It was snowing so hard that they had to use a bright yellow ball to even see what was going on. Officials had to shovel along the lines periodically. And now, Costa Rica is filing an official protest against FIFA, claiming the game should never have been continued.
It’s hard to explain just how snowy the game was. So here are some pictures that Deadspin pulled from the television coverage of the game:
Here are some screen shots from International Football News:
Players say the game was nearly impossible to play. Costa Rican midfielder told Reuters that “honestly, it was robbery, a disgrace, I’ve never played a game in these conditions. You couldn’t see the ball … if we had played without snow, we would have won, I am sure.” Another midfielder, Michael Barrantes, said “You couldn’t see the lines. You couldn’t see the ball. You couldn’t play.”
Jorge Luis Pinto, the coach for Costa Rica, asked the officials to stop the game ten minutes into the second half. Apparently, U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann argued against it, and the game resumed. Afterwards, Pinto had this to say:
“I asked them to stop. They should suspend the ref,” Pinto said. “It was an embarrassment. It was an insult to Costa Rica and people coming in here.”
But the U.S. Soccer Federation doesn’t see it that way. Their president, Sunil Gulati, told reporters:
“Frankly, (stopping) would not have been to the advantage of either of the two teams, since they both play on Tuesday. Obviously you worry about the safety of players and being able to see the ball. The referee and the match commissioner made the decision that the game could continue and I think it was the right decision.”
At Deadspin, Greg Howard says that there should be no rematch:
But, here’s the thing. In spite of all the horror, Costa Rica finished the game. They finished the game.
The conditions they’re decrying were equally bad for both teams. Not as bad as this, but still bad. On another day, Costa Rica could’ve drawn or even bested an undermanned USMNT side that was missing eight players to injury, and whose locker room was in a state of chaos. Would Pinto have complained then?
The U.S. claims it had no ill intention inviting the Central American team up to Denver for a game. The U.S. plays in Mexico City next and wanted to get a game in at altitude before then. Costa Rican fans aren’t so sure. The coaches for Costa Rica had 24 hours after the game to file an official protest, but the soonest FIFA will decide on anything regarding the game is some time this week.
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