Costa Rica have lodged an official protest with FIFA in the wake of Friday's part-World Cup Qualifier, part-snow fight at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colo. You'd be hard-pressed to say they don't have a case.
By the end of the game, the entire pitch—with the exception of the sidelines and penalty area lines—was covered in a thick blanket of snow. The ball's trajectory along the ground had become impossible to predict, rendering passing and dribbling exceptionally risky. Add to that the low visibility and the fact that one of the teams was wearing a white kit, and you can see where the Costa Ricans are coming from.
As an American, I was thrilled to see the three points go the way of the USA. But as someone who generally cares about the integrity of the sport, I can't avoid seeing the game for what it really was: a bit of a farce, and a complete injustice.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but last I checked, passing and dribbling were relatively important features of a football match. Seeing the length of the pitch and identifying the positions of your opponents, likewise, have often been considered crucial.
People have lauded the US for their resolve in Friday night's match, but as I argued here, they were lucky enough to go ahead while the conditions still permitted something resembling normal play.
The game should have been abandoned, and if the US were losing at halftime or otherwise playing miserably, you would have already read as much a thousand times over.
I'm not sure what kind of bureaucratic hurdles Costa Rica have to clear for their claims to be heard and the match to be rescheduled, but it would be the right move for the USSF, CONCACAF and FIFA. The referee made an absolute mess of the game-time decision-making, and Costa Rica deserve a fair shot. Do we Americans really want to qualify for the World Cup on such dubious merits?
In the end, a football match is supposed to be an approximate method for deciding which team plays the better football on a specific occasion. Granted, not all matches reach this lofty goal, and that is arguably part of football's appeal. But there's a specific protocol for dealing with such times when the weather makes a match utterly unplayable. In this case, it's not too late to reset the clock and replay the game. Will the relevant authorities step up to the plate?