The national soccer team’s upset victories are a sign of what’s possible for Costa Rica, said President Luis Guillermo Solís Tuesday after “La Sele’s” last game in the first round of the World Cup.
The president pulled on his red Sele shirt and hosted a viewing party for the press at Casa Presidencial Tuesday morning as Costa Rica faced off against England in its final game before advancing on to the knockout round Sunday. Solís had two televisions and a projector set up in the presidential offices with sandwiches and soda for reporters who passed on their usual suits for soccer jerseys.
“This is an unexpected gift,” Solís told a scrum of reporters after the 0-0 draw. Costa Rica claimed the top spot in Group D as England and Italy were sent home.
“In economy, education, politics, culture, Costa Rica is ready to do much more and this shows that,” Solís said, adding, “In the short term, this is a great thing. But that doesn’t mean we don’t need to work for it. Any long-term benefit to the country is the result of hard work from everyone not just the efforts of our boys in Brazil.”
The president added that the Sele’s performance could also be a boon to Costa Rica’s international standing.
“The fact that people recognize the name Costa Rica, start to look it up on the Internet, see the spheres, the fact that we don’t have an army, that we have a strong democracy; I think the culmination of all his will be a help to us,” Solís said, echoing some of the selling points he pushed during his recent foreign investment trip to the United States.
Soccer and politics got a little close for comfort earlier this week after the president’s top press officer, Stephanie González, retweeted a meme featuring former National Liberation Party presidential candidate Johnny Araya on her personal account Sunday. The meme referenced Araya’s decision to drop out of the presidential race in March.
Solís brushed off the tweet and the PLN response, which alleged that it was part of a government propaganda offensive against the former ruling party.
“Sometimes in politics you have to take things a little bit seriously and a little bit jokingly,” Solís said, according to the daily La Nación.
When asked who he thought would make it to the final, Solís laughed, “Costa Rica against any team would be an exceptional finale! We’re in a time of lots of surprises. Costa Rica and other teams are scaring the so-called ‘greats.’ Anything could happen.”
Watch President Solís celebrate as Costa Rica ties England
Video by Lindsay Fendt