The World Cup playoff game between the United States and Costa Rica on March 22, 2013 was especially memorable. Played in the middle of a storm in Colorado, the game was the closest thing to blizzard soccer fans had seen in awhile.
For 90 minutes, players had to contend with an increasingly torrential downpour of wet, white flakes. Afterwards, the severity of the conditions had millions of soccer enthusiasts wondering: should play in such treacherous conditions really be allowed?
World Cup games are obviously the most important in the sport and can be difficult to reschedule. When a team and its fans have already traveled thousands of miles for the game, canceling is something to avoid at all costs. In addition, postponing the game may mean players won’t get enough rest before their next round.
In this particular game, it didn’t look like the weather would cooperate any time soon. If the game hadn’t been played that night, it wouldn’t have been for quite awhile.
Is It Safe?
In spite of tight tournament schedules and pending forecasts, the safety of the players should be the number one consideration when choosing to continue a game. Looking back, was it really safe to continue a game in the middle of a blizzard?
In defending their decision to continue play, refs saidthe players hadn’t been sliding on the snow very much. While this may be true, any soccer player will tell you injuries don’t necessarily happen during slides.
These players were cold, wet, and covered in so much snow that they could run it through an EDI water purification system and use it to hydrate themselves. In these conditions, even the slightest misstep can cause an injury. If nothing else, the players’ immune systems were lowered by the weather.
Who Should Make the Call?
If the game has already started, refs make the final call as to whether it will continue. However, is this fair? Shouldn’t the league, coaches and players have more of a say in whether conditions are safe?
Written by Michael Deaven
Follow Michael on Twitter @MichaelCDeaven
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