Ghana coach Otto Addo slammed the American referee who awarded Cristiano Ronaldo’s World Cup-record penalty on Thursday, calling it “a special gift.”
Ronaldo won and converted the penalty in the second half, becoming the first male player to score in five World Cups. Portugal then defeated Ghana 3-2.
“Congratulations to anyone who scores a goal. But this was a true gift. “It’s a true gift,” Addo said. “Is there anything else I can say?” It was a surprise from the referee.”
Addo’s blunt criticism of American referee Ismail Elfath may land him in hot water with FIFA.
When asked what he thought caused Ghana’s narrow defeat, Addo replied, “The referee.”
Addo believed Ghanaian defender Mohammed Salisu did not foul Ronaldo for the penalty, and he complained that the officials did not use VAR to confirm this. Salisu’s thigh appeared to make slight contact with Ronaldo’s leg before the Portugal captain collapsed.
Ronaldo, 37, who was starting what was expected to be his final World Cup, converted the penalty for his piece of history.
“I think it was a really bad decision,” Addo said. “I’m not sure why VAR didn’t come up. For me, there is no explanation. When a world-class team is leading, it’s difficult to compete.”
Addo, a former Ghanaian player, is in his first international coaching job and his first World Cup. He claimed that he attempted to meet with Elfath after the game to question him about the incident. Elfath had also missed numerous fouls on Addo’s players, according to Addo.
“I tried,” Addo admitted. “I asked some FIFA officials outside if I could speak with the referee in a calm and quiet manner, but they said he was in a meeting and it wasn’t possible.”