Costa Rica Loses Again

To the surprise of absolutely no one at all, FIFA has politely declined to interfere with the result of the USA/Costa Rica qualifier, concluding: the result of the match played on 22 March stands and is considered as valid.

Rather than telling them that they need to put on their Big Boy Pants and just accept the result, however, FIFA says that the reason they refuse to get involved is because:

FIFA has examined the content of the letter and, taking into consideration article 14, paragraph 4 of the 2014 FIFA World Cup regulations, has confirmed that the conditions established in the regulations for an official protest have not been met by the Costa Rica FA.

The referenced paragraph has become well known over the last couple of days, but let's review anyway:

Protests regarding the state of the pitch, its surroundings, markings or accessory items (e.g. goals,flagposts or footballs) shall be made in writing to the referee before the start of the match by the head of delegation of the team lodging the protest. If the pitch’s playing surface becomes unplayable during a match, the captain of the protesting team shall immediately lodge a protest with the referee in the presence of the captain of the opposing team. The protests shall be confirmed in writing to the FIFA general secretariat during the preliminary competition and during the final competition by the head of the team delegation no later than two hours after the match

We've all been assuming that each of the conditions was met. FIFA says this is not the case, and since we're all reasonably certain that the Chinese Fire Drill at around minute 55 was the oft-mentioned Captain's get-together, maybe we can speculate that the Head of Delegation didn't find himself a fax machine and shoot off a letter to Jerome Valcke in Zurich quickly enough.

HOWEVER, one has to add that it's pretty rich of FIFA to refer to the "2014 FIFA World Cup regulations" since, as we've since learned, they don't seem to carry much water.

This seems to be the appropriate place for me to offer a sincere personal apology to the USSF for taking them around the barn a few times while beating them like a rented mule with regard to not knowing the rules.

Apparently, the mere fact that FIFA spends many years, hundreds of man hours and millions of dollars assembling and publishing the "Official Rules" doesn't mean they can't change them at a whim after a given tournament has begun and keep it a closely guarded secret.

To give them their due, however badly - corruptly, fraudulently, criminally - FIFA handles their financial matters, this kind of technical stuff is where they shine. It's the one thing they do well, and they know full well that their overall technical competence gives them cover for the open theft, graft and greed.

Nonetheless, the appropriate parties at USSF did in fact know what the rule book stated, and when it became an issue, spoke with the Match Commissioner who was apparently the only person in the building who knew about the super-secret rule change.

Left unexplained today is why FIFA elected to change that particular rule at a late date, who was it who wanted it changed and why.

But as with Sepp Blatter's salary, we'll probably never know.