As a football follower for more than 60 years who holds no real preference for any club or country, my passion lies with watching a “beautiful game” that’s entertaining, played fairly, skillfully and ultimately, without bias.
Unfortunately, the game I watched between the U.S.A. and Costa Rica was none of these, due to the farcical playing conditions and the actions or, matter-of-factly, non-actions of the referee who appears to have limited knowledge of the rules of the game. It also appears apparent that the media reporting in the U.S. and even in A.M. Costa Rica, watched an entirely different game to the one that was broadcast on Friday night, as reporting skirted around one minor detail: to win at any cost does not uphold the principle of fair play.
Leaving a sour taste for any genuine football fan who watched it, the game should have been abandoned due to the unplayable conditions. The field of play must be clearly defined at all times during the game. This was not the case for the entire match. Grounds men clearing the lines without stopping play is regarded as an incursion.
The safety of the players and officials are paramount. Anyone watching the game could clearly see that players were not able to fully control their movements, and it became more hazardous as the game progressed. Vision and the run of the ball were impaired by the snow. The ball often came to a grinding halt long before it should have. To have reported otherwise was clearly a cover-up for a game that should not have been played.
The standard color of the ball in these conditions is orange, the yellow and black ball was not clearly visible during the game. The U.S. team playing in white was questionable. They should have been requested to change to a second or third choice of shirt color that all international teams have for playing away games or conflict with opposing team colors. Black shorts and part black ball are also not a clearly defining color choice.
After the U.S. scored and the conditions deteriorated, the continual and aggressive actions of coach Jurgen Klinsman towards the referee to continue play was nothing less than shameful. In the UK or Europe, he would have been red carded and banned from the sideline, just ask Sir Alex Ferguson or Jose Murhino!
The FIFA official clearly wanted the game abandoned due to unplayable conditions. The referee who has the final say was reported to ask both teams if they wanted to continue. This is inappropriate as it is not down to the players to decide if a game is to be continued or abandoned. In addition, if the Costa Rican Federation had removed the team from the pitch, they would have been expelled from the World Cup, along with a heavy economic sanction.
It is clear that external influences away from the game being played were afoot for the play to continue at any cost. Had the score line been reversed, would it have been the same outcome as to play or not to play? In my humble opinion: I don’t think so.
The elbow chop reported as a hand on Brian Ruiz was a blatant red card and off. Yes the victim made the best of it but none the less it was a red, the U.S. player was not even on the ball as it was grounded in the snow a couple of feet away.
In such an important fixture for a place in the World Cup Finals, it is sad that Fair Play did not prevail. I salute both teams for playing in unreasonable conditions while they were at risk and unable to demonstrate their skills.
Congratulations to the U.S. on their win in a game that should never have been played. To play in the World Cup Finals is the dream of every professional footballer, and the finalists should be there on merit gained through fair play. To any aspiring young footballer and to football fans throughout the world, this was a game that was not about the sport, but more about the way that FIFA have lost control of the game.
The behind-the-scenes pressures and influences that govern which countries play and those that do not reinforces the fact that we need the players of tomorrow and the governing bodies to return the game to the fans. Football needs to return to the enjoyable global sport that it once was, not ruled by politics, finance, sponsors or gross incompetence, but just an entertaining and above all, fair and beautiful game.
The FEDEFUTBOL had every right to protest, but FIFA are not famous for putting wrongs right and the decision by the powers that be to let the game stand was inevitable, unfortunately as one of the poorest examples of football on a world stage, which was not the fault of the players.