DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Ghanaian coach Otto Addo criticized the US referee who awarded the penalty that resulted in Cristiano Ronaldo’s record goal at the World Cup on Thursday, calling it “a special gift”.
Ronaldo won and converted the penalty in the second half, making him the first male player to score in five World Cups. Portugal beat Ghana 3-2.
“If someone scores a goal, congratulations. But this was a real gift. A real gift,” said Addo. “What more can I say? (It was) a special gift from the referee.”
Addo’s criticism of US referee Ismail Elfath was so direct it could land him in trouble with FIFA.
When asked what he thought was the reason for Ghana’s narrow defeat, Addo replied: “The referee.”
Addo felt that Ghanaian defender Mohammed Salisu did not foul Ronaldo for the penalty, and complained that the referees did not use VAR to make sure. Salisu’s thigh appeared to make light contact with Ronaldo’s leg before the Portugal captain fell sprawling to the ground.
The 37-year-old Ronaldo, who started what was expected to be his last World Cup, converted the penalty for his piece of history.
“I think it was really the wrong decision,” Addo said. “I don’t know why VAR wasn’t mentioned. There is no explanation for me. And then it is difficult against a world-class team when they are in the lead.”
Addo is a 47-year-old former Ghanaian player who has his first international coaching job and his first World Cup. He said he even tried to meet Elfath after the game to ask him about the incident. Addo also complained that Elfath had missed numerous fouls on his players.
“I tried,” Addo said. “I asked some people outside FIFA if I could talk to the referee in a calm and quiet manner, but they said he is in a meeting and that is not possible.”
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