Costa Rica-Iraq friendly match canceled due to passport controversy

Costa Rica Iraq friendly match canceled due to passport controversy
Photo: Luis Alvarado Alvarado/Shutterstock

The Costa Rica national team returned to the Qatari capital Doha on Friday after canceling its last warm-up match before the 2022 Qatar football World Cup due to a controversy over passport stamping.

The Costa Rican Football Federation suspended the team’s friendly match against Iraq after the Central American players were forced to stamp their passports during the migration process at the Iraq-Kuwait border, potentially putting their future access to U.S. soil at risk.

Iraq’s decision violated a previously-settled agreement between the two football associations, and the team struggled to return to Kuwait after the incident, according to the federation.

The dispute is centered around the diplomatic quarrels between Iraq and Western nations, especially the U.S. Costa Ricans feared that Iraqi stamps could cause them future problems to enter U.S. territory, especially since three players in the 26-man Costa Rica roster play for Major League Soccer clubs and currently live there. 

The Iraqi Football Association (IFA) played down the diplomatic standoff, saying Costa Rica decided not to play due to a “logistics dispute.” IFA also stated that a flight from Basra (where the game was supposed to take place) to Kuwait was offered to La Sele, as the Costa Rican side is known.  

With no further appointments outside Qatar, the Costa Rican team landed in Doha this Friday. They are part of a tough Group E, which includes two former world champions, Germany and Spain, as well as Japan. 

The Pura Vida squad will debut against Spain on November 23, before playing Japan and Germany.