USA awarded walk-over, top World Cup qualifying group
by, 1st April 2013 at 09:37 AM (74196 Views)
In an unexpected escalation of tensions, FIFA today responded to Costa Rican plans to play the return leg of the USA-Costa Rica World Cup qualifier in La Guayaba de Talamanca, by awarding a 3-0 walkover to the USA.
Costa Rica had petitioned FIFA to schedule a rematch of the first game, citing player safety concerns and inhospitable conditions. The U.S. beat Costa Rica 1-0 in the blizzard at Colorado’s Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in near whiteout conditions with half a foot of snow on the field.
Costa Rica’s protest on the ground of players’ safety, the fact the grounds crew were allowed on the field during play, that the lines were not visible, and that the ball was unable to freely travel over a layer of snow was refused.
In response, it was suggested playing the return match at La Guayaba de Talamanca in the far south of the country, on a water-logged pitch in swamp-like conditions.
The decision means that the USA now top their World Cup qualifying group with 7 points, 2 ahead of Panama and 3 ahead of Costa Rica and the Honduras.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter, speaking on Monday morning, denied the new sanction was related in any way to the commercial benefits of the USA qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
When a Costa Rican journalist tried to point out the plan to use the swamp in La Guayaba de Talamanca was not approved by the Costa Rican Football Federation, but a joke spread through a Facebook meme, Blatter replied, “The decision is final, they are not laughing now.”
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