Ghana coach Otto Addo strongly criticised the American referee who awarded the penalty to Cristiano Ronaldo, calling it a “special gift”.
Cristiano Ronaldo won and converted the penalty in the second half, becoming the first male player to score in five World Cups. Portugal beat Ghana 3-2.
“If someone scores a goal, congratulations. But it was really a gift. A real gift,” said Otto Addo. “What more can I say, (it was) a special gift from the referee.”
Addo’s criticism of American 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.”
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Otto Addo believes Ghana defender Mohammed Salisu did not foul Ronaldo for the penalty and 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 Portuguese captain fell to the ground.
“I think it was a really bad decision,” said the Ghana coach. “I don’t know why VAR didn’t intervene. There is no explanation for me. And then it’s difficult against a world-class team when they are leading.”
The 47-year-old former Ghana player, who is playing in his first World Cup as a coach, reportedly even tried to meet the referee after the game to ask him about the incident. Addo also complained that Ismail Elfath had missed many fouls on his players.
“I tried,” said Addo. “I asked people outside FIFA if I could speak with the referee in a calm and quiet manner, but they said he was in a meeting and that was not possible.”