Costa Rica battled Italy to a 1-0 win in Group D today of the 2014 World Cup. After such a win, it appears as though the tiny Central American nation, home to under five million residents, is the real deal.
A picture tells a thousand words. With a player from the opposition struck to the turf, all three Italians in the frame raise their hands as if to gesture “we are innocent.” A clear inclination of guilt in sports is of course to do this when guilt overcomes one’s psyche during competition. An even more decisive indicator is when your teammates, who are not even directly involved in the offense, feel it imperative to throw their arms into the air to unnecessarily purvey their innocence from judgement.
Despite the upset and the enthusiasm that comes with the No. 28 ranked team in the world defeating the No. 9 ranked team in Gli Azzurri, terrible officiating has once again become an issue in the beautiful game. There are missed calls in sport. It happens, as referees, umpires and officials are only human. But today’s missed call by referee Enrique Osses of Chilean heritage would make any onlooker ponder why or how this man has achieved the level of success he has in his chosen profession?
With time winding down in the first half, Italy turned the ball over and were caught out of position. Costa Rican striker Joel Campbell dribbled the ball into the opposition’s box, cutting left behind one defender to give himself an open shot on goaltender Gianluigi Buffon. Before he could get the ball back on his foot, Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini broke onto the scene and ran Campbell directly over, coming nowhere close to playing the ball. Instead of doing the right thing by awarding a penalty kick, Osses gestured to play on. Costa Rican manager Jorge Luis Pinto lost his mind on the sideline, waving and flailing his arms in despair and disgust for a decent time after the obvious foul.
Fortunately for Costa Rica, a very nice goal via a header in the 44th minute by Bryan Ruiz beat Buffon, as redemption came in the form of karma. After that, the second half appeared to be played mostly on Costa Rica’s end of the pitch. They were on the defense quite a bit as Italy was relentless with their forward movement, though they never fully appeared to find the opening. Costa Rica had six shots on target to Italy’s seven. But Italy’s Mario Balotelli had trouble finishing on this day, and as a result, his team was held to nil on the score sheet.
In their first match, Costa Rica handily beat No. 7 ranked Uruguay by a score of 3-1. After another astonishing win against a top ten squad, they look poised to win their group. For their sake and the sake of the beautiful game, hopefully the officiating crew will start to take Costa Rica seriously and give them the credit and calls they so rightly deserve moving forward over the next few weeks in Brazil.