The Tico Times on Wednesday afternoon filed a lawsuit before the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court requesting an injunction against the Costa Rican Football Federation (Fedefut), after the association denied the online newspaper press passes to the World Cup Qualifying match between Costa Rica and the United States on Friday.
The lawsuit accuses Fedefut of violating the right to access information and arbitrarily denying the English-language publication the right to serve its readership. Fedefut stated The Tico Times was not accredited for the match because the site only covers Costa Rica national team matches.
Fedefut’s director of communication, Joseyln Hernández, wrote that The Tico Times — a newsroom with an editorial staff of eight (including interns and correspondents) — needed to cover other association-sponsored events “including practices and other activities.”
Tico Times Editor-in-Chief David Boddiger said he would like to see the official rule stating why accreditation was withheld.
The Tico Times, founded in 1956, received accreditations for prior Costa Rica matches against Spain, Brazil and Venezuela. The Tico Times attended the last Costa Rica-United States World Cup qualifying match in 2009. In addition, The Tico Times also cited coverage of away games for the Costa Rican national team.
The publication originally applied for eight credentials (the entire staff) to cover the game, the maximum amount allowed for news organizations. After the credential was denied on Aug. 26., Hernández claimed online-only publications only could apply for one press pass. At least one other local online news source received three, according to a staffer.
Hernández then said she could give The Tico Times one pass. But after Boddiger emailed her about picking up the credential, he learned the pass had been revoked. The injunction states that the revocation highlights the arbitrary-nature of Fedefut’s decision.
Fedefut stated that the organization approved 500 credentials for the match, but the stadium only could accommodate 300.
This isn’t the only controversy Fedefut has faced in regards to access to the U.S.-Costa Rica game. When tickets went on sale for the match in July, they sold out quickly. Many Costa Rican soccer fans soon raised an uproar after discovering many of the tickets ended up in the hands of scalpers. The cheapest tickets, with a face-value of $20, were being re-sold by scalpers for prices five times that amount.
Fedefut couldn’t explain why the tickets ended up in the hands of scalpers, although the association did begin a campaign to confiscate scalped tickets. One scalper claimed to have 500 tickets alone.
The match, between the two teams atop the Concacaf standings, is one of the most important matches to take place on Costa Rican soil in years. A win for Costa Rica all-but-guarantees the squad a spot in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. If the United States wins, the U.S. team clinches a World Cup berth.