Costa Rica request replay of US game

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (AFP) — Costa Rican football officials said yesterday they have requested a replay of their snow-hit World Cup qualifying defeat to the United States, insisting the game should have been called off.

Amid farcical scenes in Denver on Friday, Costa Rica slumped to a 1-0 defeat to their CONCACAF rivals in a match which saw both sides labour through a blizzard on a pitch blanketed in thick snow.

Salvadoran referee Joel Aguilar briefly halted the game in the 55th minute before allowing the match to conclude.

Costa Rica Football Federation Vice-President Jorge Hidalgo was quoted by La Nacion newspaper as saying a request had been made to world governing body FIFA to replay the match.

Hidalgo also said referee Aguilar should be suspended.

“We ask for a prolonged suspension for the match referee and a replay of the match because of the conditions in which we played,” Hidalgo said.

Adding that a formal protest had been lodged with FIFA, he indicated he was not optimistic of the appeal being successful.

“We understand it is complicated, but we feel we must protest,” he said.

Costa Rica’s press slammed the decision to go ahead with the game on Saturday.

“Outrageous! We were forced to play in caveman conditions,” the Al Dia newspaper wailed on its front page.

“It was the only way they could beat us — the USA froze us in Denver. Why was the game allowed to go ahead?” the paper added.

Costa Rica’s coach Jorge Luis Pinto, meanwhile, branded the decision to go ahead with the game as an “embarrassment”.

“It’s embarrassing for football and embarrassing for fair play. It’s disrespectful to FIFA, the fans, the players and [a] spectacle,” Pinto was quoted as saying in the Extra newspaper.

Manager Rodolfo Villalobos said snow was at least “five inches” deep in parts of the field.

“You couldn’t see the pitch markings and that is not allowed under the FIFA regulations,” Villalobos said.

Friday’s defeat left Costa Rica at the bottom of the CONCACAF final round qualifying standings while the the victory elevated the USA to second in the table.

Costa Rica now face Jamaica at home on Tuesday. The Jamaicans are coming off a1-1 tie with Panama in Kingston on Friday.

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