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Retaliation: Costa Rica seeks change of venue for World Cup match against U.S.

Costa Ricans are still bitter over a March World Cup qualifying match that was played in blizzard-like conditions in Colorado. With heavy snow accumulating on the field and temperatures below zero, the Tico Sele lost 1-0 in a game that local soccer fans say never should have been allowed to continue. A Costa Rican Soccer Federation appeal to FIFA to have the game annulled was quickly denied.

Now, the federation promises to exact revenge by moving an upcoming September rematch to Saprissa Stadium in Tibas, north of the capital. The game originally was scheduled for the much bigger and more modern National Stadium in western San José’s La Sabana Park.

Soccer federation president Eduardo Li announced last Wednesday on local radio station Radio ADN (90.7 FM) that he planned to file for the venue change with FIFA.

Known as “The Monster’s Cave,” Saprissa Stadium is an intimidating venue for visitors. Visiting locker rooms are located under fan seating, and stands were built close to the field. Taunting of visiting teams by fans creates a tough environment to play in. During a previous match between the two teams in the 1990s, Costa Rican fans pelted the U.S. squad with garbage, batteries and bags of urine. Costa Rica won that match.

“[Saprissa Stadium] is worse than [Mexico City’s] Azteca [Stadium],” former U.S. player Alexis Lalas tweeted in response to the announcement. Lalas played for the U.S. squad in two World Cup tournaments in 1994 and 1998.

Saprissa also has synthetic turf, which can be difficult for some players.

Li said stadium improvements are needed before a World Cup match could be played at the Monster’s Cave.

The federation has 90 days before the Sept. 6 match to select its stadium, which must be approved by FIFA.

Costa Rica walked away with a 3-1 victory against the U.S. the last time the two teams faced each other at Saprissa, in June 2009.

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