“This very serious offence should, with no doubt, have resulted in a penalty being awarded to the Trinidad and Tobago team and the offending Costa Rica player being shown the red card in keeping with the Laws of the game: Law 12 – ‘Denying a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity’.”
Retired FIFA referee and FIFA referees instructor Osmond Downer gives his view on a controversial tug on Trinidad and Tobago forward Jamille Boatswain in the Costa Rica penalty area, during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action on 13 June 2017. Costa Rica won 2-1:
I have received several phone calls during the course of this morning for my opinion concerning an incident that occurred during a very crucial time in the World Cup qualifying game between Costa Rica and Trinidad and Tobago, which was played in San José last night.
This is related to a moment in the 51st minute when Costa Rica led 2-1 but, with Trinidad and Tobago’s speedy front line constantly penetrating the opposing defence, goals looked imminent.
Here was the incident: Trinidad and Tobago attacker Jamille Boatswain, who was approaching with speed from just outside the penalty area in the middle of the field, got past Costa Rica defender Michael Umaña with a clear run towards goal.
Boatswain was followed by Umaña into the penalty area and, in a last ditch effort, the defender grabbed on to his shirt for the whole world to see and pulled him back, which resulted in the forward falling to the ground with the obvious goal scoring opportunity being prevented.
This very serious offence should, with no doubt, have resulted in a penalty being awarded to the Trinidad and Tobago team AND the offending Costa Rica player being shown the red card in keeping with the Laws of the game: Law 12 – “Denying a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity.”
This incident fulfils all the criteria for the offence of “denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity” with the issuing of a red card:
- The offence was holding an opponent in the penalty area;
- The attacker was moving directly towards the goal;
- The distance from the goal was such that in a second or two the attacker would have been in an excellent position to score a goal;
- There were no defenders in a position to stop the attempt at the goal—the attacker had already beaten the defender and was then in front of him heading towards the goal;
- The attacker was in full control of the ball within playing distance of the ball.
The offence was clear and blatant for the whole world to see. Perhaps referee Yardel Martinez was in a poor position behind the play and not in a proper angle to clearly see the offence—but surely the referee’s assistant was able to see it and should have signalled Martinez about the offence and indicated a penalty and a red card.
Of course a penalty and a red card at that stage would have made a world of difference to the result of the game.
In my experience as a FIFA referee and referee assessor, I have always found the atmosphere in a World Cup game in Costa Rica to be quite intimidating and perhaps the Cuban officials may not have been experienced enough to handle the situation.
Of course—all the same—there are no excuses for the serious defence lapses by the Trinidad and Tobago team that resulted in the two Costa Rica goals.