Guyana Football Federation (GFF) president Wayne Forde has vowed to do ‘due diligence’ on the eligibility of 36-year-old Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Andre Boucaud, due to the latter’s appearance as a late substitute during the Soca Warriors’ 1-1 World Cup qualifying draw with Puerto Rico on 28 March.
Boucaud, at the time, was a registered agent with the England FA, whose rules expressly forbid him from being an active player or official.
Rule 1.2 of Appendix II in the English FA rules states: ‘An official (as defined by the Fifa Statutes or any successor here to) or a player cannot be an intermediary. An intermediary becoming an official or a player shall have his registration suspended for as long as he remains an official or a player.’
The passage prompted Inside World Football, a website with a strong pro-David John-Williams lean in its coverage of the local sport, to suggest that Trinidad and Tobago could be forced to forfeit its point gained away to Puerto Rico.
Article 22.1 of the Fifa Disciplinary Code states: ‘If a player is fielded in a match despite being ineligible, the team to which the player belongs will be sanctioned by forfeiting the match and paying a minimum fine of CHF 6,000. The player may also be sanctioned.’
However, tellingly, neither the website nor the GFF could point to any rule which would make Boucaud ineligible.
Although the midfielder is no longer listed as an agent, Fifa has no obvious article which debars a player from international football, once he holds the appropriate passport and has not represented another association—or followed the proper procedure to switch allegiance.
Fifa states that ‘any person holding a permanent nationality that is not dependent on residence in a certain country is eligible to play for the representative teams of the association of that country’.
Boucaud, who has 48 senior international caps with two goals, qualifies to represent the twin island republic on that score—despite not playing competitive football since 14 March 2020, when he appeared as a late substitute for Maidstone FC in a 3-0 loss to Eastbourne Borough in England’s sixth tier.
Trinidad and Tobago’s domestic league has not restarted since the Covid-19 pandemic, which means that Boucaud is not the only inactive player in head coach Terry Fenwick’s squad.
Midfielders Michel Poon-Angeron and Jabari Mitchell, defender Justin Garcia, and forward Brent Sam featured for the Soca Warriors in one or both of their World Cup qualifiers so far, despite a similar dearth of competitive football.
Neither Boucaud, Fenwick nor the Robert Hadad-led normalisation committee has commented on the grumbles about the player so far, although Wired868 understands that the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) is confident that it faces no risk of sanction.
If there is anything wrong with Boucaud’s appearance, Ford assured Guyana’s NCN Sport News that he would find it.
“[I am] busy trying to ascertain the facts, based on the report and once those facts are confirmed then we will do our due diligence in checking the regulations,” said Forde, “to see whether the issued raised in that article are legitimate and represent sufficient grounds for a formal protest.
“Once we would have established those grounds then clearly we have an obligation and responsibility to submit a formal protest to Concacaf and Fifa.”
Trinidad and Tobago are second in Group F with four points from two games, after an opening 3-0 win over Guyana. At present, St Kitts and Nevis top the group with six points followed by T&T (four points) and Guyana (three points).
With two games remaining, only the winner will advance to the next round of Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifying.