USMNT reacts to Costa Rica protest and awaits word from FIFA
MEXICO CITY – Wait and see. That's the position of the U.S. Soccer Federation after FIFA on Monday confirmed receipt of Costa Rica's protest of Friday's World Cup qualifier played in heavy snow at Dick's Sporting Goods Park.
Costa Rica is seeking a replay of the match based on alleged violations of competitive regulations and disciplinary sanctions against the Salvadoran match officials.
"The U.S. Soccer Federation has been informed by FIFA that there has been correspondence between the Costa Rican federation and FIFA regarding the World Cup qualifier on March 22," U.S. Soccer spokesman Michael Kammarman said at Monday's press conference ahead of Tuesday night's World Cup qualifier against Mexico. "And we're awaiting a response from FIFA."
According to the Costa Rican federation's official site, the federation's legal department worked around the clock on Saturday to submit the protest in the 24-hour window that FIFA rules establish.
The site also details the four chief arguments made in the protest: 1) the danger posed to the players by allowing the match to be played; 2) persons entering the field while the ball was in play; 3) the disappearance of the lines on the field due to the snow accumulation; and 4) the impact of the snow on the movement of the ball on the field.
"FIFA will now analyze the content of the letter and next steps will be determined in due course," said the world's governing body in a statement on Monday.
Costa Rican fans have rallied behind the formal protest and are organizing a protest of their own, encouraging fans in attendance at Tuesday night's sold-out home qualifier against Jamaica to turn their backs to the field during the FIFA pregame anthem.
It remains to be seen how far the Costa Rican protest goes. FIFA is still working on determining whether the Central Americans followed procedure in filing it, according to the 2014 World Cup regulations. One detail in those regulations calls for the team captain of the protesting team to "immediately lodge a protest with the referee in the presence of the captain of the opposing team."
But Clint Dempsey, who captained the US on Friday, denies that meeting ever took place.
"That didn't happen," Dempsey said here in the Mexican capital on Monday, where the US are preparing for their Tuesday night qualifier (10:30 pm ET; ESPN/Univision, LIVE chat on MLSsoccer.com). "Just before the game, the only thing that was talked about was the flip of a coin and we won the toss and we chose to go first half against the wind."
Offered US head coach Jurgen Klinsmann: "I mean, if you put yourself in their shoes, they tried everything to win the game. Because once you're a goal down and you see the storm is blowing through you might give it a shot of having it canceled, stopped or whatever. If you're down, you want to have it repeated. And if you're up, you want to have it finished and move on. It's normal."
A Costa Rican federation official says that refusing to play was not a realistic option.
"Although we don't want to create false expectations, we are fighting for the rights that we consider were violated," said Costa Rican federation treasurer Rodolfo Villalobos. "Removing the team from the field during the match would have meant being expelled from the World Cup in addition to an economic sanction. That's why there is this process [for protests] in place."