Even though it lost all three games it played, National Soccer Team La Selección’s performance in the World Cup generated a memorable amount of patriotism as Ticos and Ticas with serious cases of soccer fever cheered on their team in Germany.
As luck of the draw would have it (literally, teams were drawn at random to determine their schedule), Costa Rica got matched up against the German home team for the inaugural game June 9.
Thus La Sele, as the team is known, headed off to Germany, followed by hundreds of Tico fans who crossed the Atlantic to wave red, white and blue flags from the stands for their players and all the world to see.
Meanwhile, fans back home put aside work, school and pretty much everything else to watch the game June 9. President Oscar Arias gave all public employees the morning off, and many private companies either did the same or let their employees watch while they worked.
Though La Sele lost 4-2, many fans were satisfied with two goals, as some had predicted the team wouldn’t score at all. From there, though, it was all downhill. The team went on to lose to Ecuador 0-3 and Poland 1-2, subsequently putting coach Alexandre Guimaraes in the hot seat as many blamed the losses on his coaching. Guimaraes later resigned, citing threats to him and his family.
World Cup fever wasn’t just about soccer. Government institutions and private businesses seized Costa Rica’s day in the sun to promote the country as a tourism destination, exporter of desirable goods and land of peace and biodiversity.
Back on Tico soil, businesses including Banco Nacional, Coca-Cola and Kentucky Fried Chicken also aimed to cash in on the action by launching products marketed with the World Cup in mind.