Soccer is a big thing in Costa Rica. It’s so big that if I write the “wrong” thing in this post, I could potentially lose more than half of my readers, since many of them are Costa Rican. Soccer is a big thing in most of the rest of the world, too. In fact, it’s so big that I’m sure people will complain I’m calling it “soccer” and not “football.” But while I’ve expressed my indifference and even dislike towards soccer and organized sports in general, I thought I should comment on the recent soccer game between the U.S. and Costa Rican national teams. And yes, I’m going to call it a “game” and not a “match,” since it’s just a game. I wasn’t going to say anything, but it’s been a pretty big event in Costa Rica. Plus, it involves the U.S., specifically Colorado, and as a Coloradan I’ve had some weird conversations in the last week or two.
If you haven’t heard about this game for some reason (ie, if you’re American), then let’s just summarize: There was a World Cup qualifying game between the U.S. and Costa Rica that took place in Denver on March 22. Yeah, I know, it’s old news, but people are still talking about it here. Anyhow, it snowed during the game, as sometimes happens in Denver in March. The U.S. scored a goal in the first half, and no other goals were scored. The U.S. won the game, but a few days later Costa Rica appealed the game, asking for it to be replayed. FIFA then denied the request. Those are the facts. This post will provide a summary of what people from Costa Rica and the USA think about it.
What people from Costa Rica generally think about the game:
Most people here think that the game should have been replayed. But of course, that may have something to do with the fact that it was their team that lost. In any case, I’ve heard the snow called “ridiculous,” and I’ve also heard excuses from fans, the media, and from the team itself. To be sure, it doesn’t snow in Costa Rica, and their players probably aren’t used to playing in snow. On the other hand, it’s not like American players are constantly training in the snow, either. It’s soccer, after all, and they wear shorts. It’s not a snow sport.
As a kid I played all sorts of sports in the snow during recess and let me tell you: Playing soccer in the snow is freaking awesome! I didn’t actually watch the game, but after seeing pictures and watching news recaps, my wife and I couldn’t stop laughing because the pictures were so hilarious. Flunkies using shovels to clear the field? Players sliding all over the place? A stadium covered in white? Sweet! But I’ll admit that all that awesomeness doesn’t necessarily lead to scoring goals, and if your trip to the World Cup is on the line, I can understand how it would be frustrating.
However, the conditions were less than ideal for both teams; it’s not like the U.S. team was wearing parkas and skis. I actually heard people complain here saying things like “Look how badly those gringos treated us,” as if the people of Colorado had actually made it snow. Believe me, if I had that kind of power, I’d use it. A lot.
What people from the USA generally think about the game:
They don’t. No one really cares about soccer in the U.S., and anyone who claims to is just trying to be a Euro-poser.
But if you pressed them and actually made them give you a response, they’d probably say: “There was a soccer game? Why was the U.S. playing Puerto Rico?”
Analysis from the Costa Rica Outsider Sports Desk:
Look, Costa Rica, you should be proud your team is even competitive (although many fans here would dispute this point). I don’t mean that to be as patronizing as it sounds, but look at the facts: Costa Rica has about 4 million people. The U.S. has about 315 million people. Of course, of those 315 million people, only about two or three dozen are interested in soccer but nevertheless, it’s obvious that large countries like the U.S. have a much larger pool of potential players. If you consider other countries with top-level national soccer teams –places like Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Germany, England, Spain, etc.– almost every one on the list has a population at least 10 times larger than Costa Rica’s. The mere fact that Costa Rica has even gone to the last few World Cups should be celebrated, at least by people who celebrate that kind of thing. The kind of people who can sit in front of a TV for a few hours and watch grown men run around and kick a ball.
Personally, though, I’d rather go outside to get some fresh air and build a snowman.
What about you? Any thoughts on the game? Comments from Costa Ricans, Americans, or any other blowhards are more than welcome!
Thanks for reading–stay warm!