DOHA, Qatar — Ghana coach Otto Addo has slammed the U.S. referee who awarded the penalty that resulted in Cristiano Ronaldo’s World Cup-record goal on Thursday, calling it a “special gift”.
Ronaldo won and converted the second-half penalty, making him the first male player to score in five World Cups. Portugal then beat Ghana 3-2.
“If someone scores a goal, congratulations,” Addo said. “But it was really a gift. Really a gift. What more can I say? [It was] a special gift from the referee.”
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Addo’s criticism of US referee Ismail Elfath was so direct that it could get him in trouble with FIFA.
When asked what he thought was the reason for Ghana’s narrow defeat, Addo replied: “The referee.”
Addo felt Ghanaian defender Mohammed Salisu did not foul Ronaldo for the penalty, and he complained that the officials did not use VAR to make sure. Salisu’s thigh appeared to make light contact with Ronaldo’s leg before the Portugal captain sprawled to the ground.
Ronaldo, 37, who was starting what should be his last World Cup, converted the penalty into his piece of history.
“I think it was really the wrong decision,” Addo said. “I don’t know why VAR didn’t come. There’s no explanation for me. And then it’s tough against a world-class team when they’re up front.”
Addo is a 47-year-old former Ghanaian player in his first international coaching job and his first World Cup. He said he even tried to meet Elfath after the match to ask him about the incident. Addo also complained that Elfath missed many fouls on his players.
“I tried,” Addo said. “I asked some people outside FIFA if I could speak with the referee calmly and quietly, but they said he was in a meeting and it was not possible.”