Wednesday, March 26, 2014

26 March 2005 - But It Was The Beer Vendors Who Really Suffered

On 26 March 2005, Costa Rica and Panama set the record for the lowest attendance at a World Cup qualifier with a head count of zero. The match was played at Costa Rica's Estadio Ricardo Saprissa Ayma in San Jose (above), where Costa Rica had recently lost to Mexico on 9 February 2005. According to reports filed after the loss to Mexico, the home fans threw various objects at the officials and the Mexican players, including bottles, coins, batteries, and fruit. As a punishment, FIFA ruled that Costa Rica's match against Panama had to be played behind closed doors. Despite the empty stadium, however, Costa Rica beat Panama 2-1 in a match the Costa Rican press called "miraculous," as Roy Myrie scored the go-ahead goal in the 90th minute.

Costa Rica advanced to the 2006 World Cup and immediately set another record by opening the tournament with a 4-2 loss to host nation Germany - the highest scoring opening match in World Cup history. Costa Rica lost its next two matches to the other members of its group, Ecuador (by the score of 0-3) and Poland (1-2), thus failing to advance beyond the group stage.

Saprissa Stadium received a similar attendance ban from CONCACAF in 2006, following a CONCACAF Champions Cup match on 29 March. Hometown club Saprissa beat Mexican club Toluca 3-2, but Toluca advanced on aggregate after winning the first leg 2-0. Angry Saprissa supporters threw trash and other objects onto the pitch and threatened the match officials, causing CONCACAF to issue the ban.

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