By Paul Nicholson
April 16 – The embattled Trinidad and Tobago FA, currently ruled by a FIFA Normalisation Committee, could face the embarrassment of losing points from its recent World Cup qualifiers for playing an ineligible player.
Trinidad and Tobago are drawn in a group with St Kitts and Nevis, Guyana, Puerto Rico and Bermuda, a group they would ordinarily be expected to romp through without too much difficulty.
Having opened with a win against Guyana, the Trinidadians followed up with a draw against Puerto Rico, and in doing so brought on registered player agent Andre Boucard.
Boucard, who last featured for Trinidad and Tobago in March 2017, but, aged 36, had not played for at least seven months before his call-up by coach Terry Fenwick.
Trinidad and Tobago registered Boucard as playing for Maidstone Utd in England’s sixth tier, though a search of records shows no indication of his registration.
However, he was registered as a player intermediary with the English FA.
English FA rules expressly prohibit an agent playing competitively in the elite professional and semi-professional tiers of the game.
Rule 1.2 of Appendix II in the English FA rules states; “An Official (as defined by the FIFA Statues or any successor hereto) 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.”
Boucard has subsequently pulled from the list of English FA player agents and his license temporarily suspended.
The English FA say their rules mirror those of FIFA and while the conflicts that would arise with a player also being an agent are obvious, FIFA’s own rules don’t specifically mention players cannot be agents, though the wording implies that is the case.
However, FIFA’s rules are very clear over sanctions that would be applied if an ineligible player took part in an official match. In this case the sanction would be to forfeit the game.
FIFA’s rules on eligibility read:
“1. If a player takes part in an official match despite being ineligible, his team will be sanctioned by forfeiting the match (cf. art. 31) and paying a minimum fine of CHF 6,000.
- If a player takes part in a friendly match despite being ineligible, his team will be sanctioned by forfeiting the match and paying a minimum fine of CHF 4,000.”
FIFA responded to questions from Insideworldfootball saying: “As a general policy, FIFA’s judicial bodies do not speculate, nor do they comment on whether or not investigations are underway into alleged cases.”
FIFA did not respond as to whether its rules specifically preclude player agents from playing in elite matches. If they don’t then the English FA will likely have to revisit their own rules and reinstate Boucard as an intermediary.
If Trinidad and Tobago are docked points, their World Cup qualification group is thrown wide open as they would lose the crucial one point advantage they have over Guyana. It could get worse for the TTFA – though it seems unlikely – if decided to also overturn the result against Guyana. While on the squad list, Boucard did not feature in that match.
Trinidad and Tobago’s World Cup campaign has been troubled from the start with coach Fenwick clashing before a media conference with the FA’s media officer and allegedly headbutting him. That incident, witnessed by media and players, was brushed under the carpet by the TTFA saying that no physical assault took place.
Fenwick, who in his first game as coach presided over a record 7-0 loss against a second string US team, has again landed the TTFA in embarrassingly deep water , this time over his selection of a player agent.
FIFA may save the day and the blushes of Fenwick and the TTFA’s Normalisation Committee on the basis that they might not have been aware of the rules. But they are pretty basic rules not to be aware of in a game where correct registration and eligibility criteria is the first priority of any national team selection.
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