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Mar 23, 2013

Report: Costa Rica to file protest on snow

Costa Rica plans to file an official protest with FIFA about Friday's 1-0 loss to the United States in a Rocky Mountain snowstorm, according to a Reuters report.

A Costa Rica soccer federation official told domestic media that the protest would be made Saturday, Reuters reported.

Costa Rica has 24 hours after the game to file a written protest with FIFA, according to The Associated Press. However, the soonest FIFA would hear word of a protest would be Monday because the world organizing body's office is empty this weekend, a source told ESPN.

Federation president Eduardo Li told reporters that Costa Rica was seeking for the game to be replayed and for referee Joel Aguilar of El Salvador to be suspended.

A FIFA official declined to speculate to ESPN on the success of any potential appeal before reading a written protest.

Plows and shovels were used to clear the penalty areas, center circle and midfield stripe as snow got heavier Friday night, and a yellow-and-purple ball was used.

Ten minutes into the second half, Costa Rica coach Jorge Luis Pinto wanted the referee and match commissioner Victor Daniel of Grenada to suspend the game, but U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann made a case for playing on.

Play continued after some heated discussion. Pinto was angry during and after the game.

"I asked them to stop. They should suspend the ref," Pinto said. "It was an embarrassment. It was an insult to Costa Rica and people coming in here."

Costa Rica complained at halftime, federation vice president Jorge Hidalgo told journalist Yashin Quesada, and conditions after the game made filing an immediate appeal impossible.

"We protested about the conditions at the end of the first half. That's why the match official stopped the match," Hidalgo said, as translated by soccer commentator Juan Arango. "We were summoned to the crisis room for a meeting and no one from (the United States) showed up. To me this was a distortion by the match supervisor for the game to continue, despite our verbal protests to stop the match."

The Denver area was bracing for 6 to 12 inches of snow early Saturday morning and the National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning shortly before the game ended, according to the Denver Post. The service expected the heaviest snow to fall to the north and east of Denver, where Dick's Sporting Goods Park is located, the newspaper reported.

Pinto said the "legal conditions" for playing were not met, according to Reuters.

Visibility in the Denver area dropped from two miles at the end of the first half to a half-mile an hour later, according to the National Weather Service.

"You couldn't see the lines. You couldn't see the ball. You couldn't play," Costa Rica midfielder Michael Barrantes said.

Costa Rica players didn't complain much during the game, but expressed frustration afterward.

"Honestly, it was robbery, a disgrace, I've never played a game in these conditions," midfielder Cristian Bolanos told Reuters. "You couldn't see the ball ... if we had played without snow, we would have won, I am sure."

One other World Cup qualifying match, between Northern Ireland and Russia, was postponed Friday -- and again Saturday -- because of snow in Belfast.

U.S. federation president Sunil Gulati said the referee made the right decision to continue playing Friday.

"Frankly, (stopping) would not have been to the advantage of either of the two teams, since they both play on Tuesday," Gulati told reporters. "Obviously you worry about the safety of players and being able to see the ball. The referee and the match commissioner made the decision that the game could continue and I think it was the right decision."

Gulati said the U.S. chose to play the game in Colorado in preparation for the altitude in Tuesday's game in Mexico City, and not to put its Central American opponent at a disadvantage with uncomfortable weather.

Mexico City is about a half-mile higher above sea level than the mile-high conditions around Denver.

"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 said, according to Reuters.

Information from ESPN's Jeff Carlisle and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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