RECIFE, Brazil — Greece coach Fernando Santos said he was the victim of a double-standard when a referee banished him to the stands in the late stages of his team’s loss to Costa Rica in the World Cup.
Santos, who led Greece to its first appearance in the World Cup’s second round, was ordered out of the dugout on the night of June 29 by Australian referee Ben Williams after extra time and had to watch a decisive penalty shootout on a TV in the bowels of Arena Pernambuco.
Afterward, Santos explained that his disagreement with Williams in fact began at the end of 90 minutes, when he and his staff walked toward players on the field in order to give them water and instructions for extra time.
“The referee said we couldn’t go onto the pitch, that we and the substitutes have to be off,” Santos said. “I pointed to the other side and said, ‘They’re all on the pitch.’ The players, the technical staff, everyone of Costa Rica was on the pitch, and those of Greece couldn’t cross the sideline.
“So I said, ‘That’s not right; that’s a double-standard.'” That initial dispute simmered down, but started up again after extra time.
“Exactly the same thing happened,” Santos said. “Everyone of Costa Rica was on the pitch and when I was walking in, (Williams) said I couldn’t go in. I said, ‘Why? Am I different from them? Do I look different? Is it because I’m Portuguese?’
“He said, ‘No. You can’t talk to me like that.’ So I said, ‘Who do I talk to?’ And then he said I was banned and I had to leave … So I left.”
And that is how Santos’ four-year stint as Greece’s national team coach ended. He had said heading into the match that he did not expect to coach the team beyond the World Cup. However, he also noted after the match that Greek federation officials didn’t waste time sending him on his way.
“Greece already has a new coach,” Santos said, alluding to reports earlier this month in Greece that Claudio Ranieri is expected to be hired to replace him.
He added that he’d already been told that his flight out of Brazil had been arranged and that his departure was within hours. “I don’t know if they didn’t believe we were going to be here or not. I don’t know.”
(BRETT MARTEL, AP Sports Writer)