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Fifa dismisses Boucaud protests, veteran midfielder cleared to continue with Warriors

The Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Senior Team did not breach any rule by using player/agent Andre Boucaud as a late substitute in their 1-1 Word Cup qualifying draw against Puerto Rico on 28 March 2021.

The Puerto Rico Football Federation (FPF) and Guyana Football Federation (GFF) filed protests to Fifa last month, after an Inside World Football article claimed that Boucaud was an illegal player.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Andre Boucaud (left) celebrates with teammate Joevin Jones during their 2-0 Gold Cup win over Cuba.
(Courtesy Concacaf)

The 36-year-old Boucaud, who retired from club football last year, breached an England FA rule by accepting a call-up from Soca Warriors head coach Terry Fenwick.

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.’

Boucaud, who was born in England and still resides there, was subsequently deregistered as an agent by the FA. However, neither Puerto Rico nor Guyana could point to any Fifa rule that was violated by his participation for T&T in the Qatar 2022 World Cup series.

And Gordon Savic, the head of Fifa World Cup qualifiers, confirmed that no such law exists on the global governing body’s books.

“Savic informed the FPF that the Fifa Disciplinary Department will not open a case related to Puerto Rico’s request to investigate the player Andre Boucaud,” stated an update on the FPF website. “[…] According to Fifa, the protest by Puerto Rico did not meet the requirements established in the Disciplinary Code.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Andre Boucaud (centre) looks for passing options under close watch from US players (from right) Jermaine Jones, Gyasi Zardes and Tim Ream during 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 17 November 2015.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Fifa’s decision means that Puerto Rico remain on one point from two matches and have no chance of advancing past Group F.

At present, St Kitts and Nevis lead the group with six points followed by Trinidad and Tobago with four and Guyana with three. All three nations can still get to the second round of qualifiers, although the ‘Golden Jaguars’ would need to defeat St Kitts and Nevis by three goals and then hope the ‘Sugar Boyz’ and the Warriors play to a draw in their closing fixtures.

St Kitts and Nevis will top Group F with two draws or a draw and a win from their remaining games. And, for Trinidad and Tobago, Fenwick needs two wins to remain alive in the competition.

Boucaud, 36, has 48 senior international caps with two goals and remains in Fenwick’s pool for the next Fifa match window, although he has not played a competitive domestic match in over a year and a half.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago head coach Terry Fenwick acknowledges fans in the stands during warmups before an international friendly against USA in Orlando on 31 January 2021.
(Copyright AP Photo/Phelan M Ebenhack)

Fenwick said the midfielder’s professional attitude remains an asset for the team as a mentor for the younger players. And his decision to insert Boucaud for the closing minutes in Puerto Rico suggests that the English coach still believes his veteran player can assist on the field as well.

The Warriors leave the Piarco International Airport on 30 May, as they prepare for qualifiers against the Bahamas in Nassau on 5 June and against St Kitts and Nevis in the Dominican Republic on 8 June.

 

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