Left out in the cold: FIFA rejects Costa Rica’s snowbound protest


FIFA announced on Tuesday it has rejected an official complaint by Costa Rica over weather conditions in Friday’s snowy World Cup qualifying match against the United States in Denver, Colo. because it was not filed correctly.
The Ticos were outraged with referee Joel Aguilar of Elsalvador for not suspending thei match after a severe snowstorm created dangerous playing conditions at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
They lost the match 1-0.

“It was an embarrassment to football, disrespectful to the game,” Costa Rican coach Jorge Luis Pinto said after the game. “It’s embarrassing for soccer and embarrassing for fair play [FIFA’s coined phrase]. It’s disrespectful to FIFA, the fans, the players and the spectacle.”

The game was stopped in the 54th minute when coaching staff unsuccessfully pleaded with Aguilar and his assistants to stop the match.
Clint Dempsey had given the United States the lead on a disputed goal and the Costa Rican’s looked to have a scored a second half equalizer in the middle of a heavy snow squall but the goal was ruled offside.
Gale-force winds, poor visibility, freezing temperatures and ankle-deep snow forced organizers to shovel off the field more than once and the conditions steadily worsened in the second half.
“FIFA received a letter via email and fax from the Costa Rica FA on March 24 with regards to the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier played on March 22 between USA and Costa Rica,” the FIFA statement read. “The conditions established in the regulations for an official protest have not been met by the Costa Rica FA.”
While the current protest by Costa Rica looks to be frozen for the moment, Players on the United States team admitted the playing conditions during the match were far from ideal.
“As the game went on, the snow accumulated and it’s almost impossible to play,” said Michael Bradley of the United States.
It is not uncommon to see matches in Europe suspended due to frozen pitches or unplayable conditions due to snow.
Earlier in the day heavy snow had already forced UEFA and FIFA officials to suspend a match in Belfast between Northern Ireland and Russia, so it raises the question why Aguillar and CONCACAF officials didn’t follow suit?
On Monday the world governing body of soccer said it will “now analyze the content of the letter [protest] and steps will be determined in due course.”
Some would argue that the tight international soccer schedule and Tuesday’s upcoming matches were a contributing factor to the referee’s decision.
Conspiracy theorists might suggest that the entire event and miserable weather conditions were planned by the U.S. Soccer Federation, whose national teams are often are forced to play games in the blazing high noon sun when travelling to qualifying matches in Central American nations.
U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati insisted that the referee made the right decision and also stated that having the game played in the high rocky mountains in March was more due to the fact that the Americans needed to grow accustomed to high altitude before Tuesday’s game in Mexico City.
“If the thought is that we want to play Costa Rica in a situation where it could snow, then there are some places that maybe could have been better, like Boston or somewhere,” Gulati told Reuters.
Some of Costa Rica’s players are used to adverse weather conditions and know that most referees would have suspended the match.

“Honestly it was robbery. A disgrace, I’ve never played games in these conditions,” FC Copenhagen midfielder Christian Bolanos told Soccer America magazine. “You couldn’t see the ball…If we had played without the snow, we would have won I am sure.”

Costa Rican football federation president Jorge Hidalgo already knew the chances of FIFA overturning the result and forcing a replay of the match aren’t good.
“We understand its complicated but we must protest,” he said.