June 13 – Concacaf has thrown Nicaragua out of the Gold Cup 2023 that kicks off its Group stages June 24. Trinidad and Tobago, who were preparing to compete in the preliminary qualifying rounds, will instead take their place.
The decision to kick Nicaragua (FENIFUT) out was made by the Concacaf Disciplinary Committee “for a severe violation of the applicable FIFA/Concacaf regulations by fielding an ineligible player in eight Nicaragua Men’s National Team matches, including matches in the 2022/23 Concacaf Nations League (CNL).”
As well as throwing them out of the 2023 Gold Cup, Nicaragua have been relegated to League B of the 2023/24 CNL.
It is understood the ineligible player is Richard Rodriguez, a midfielder born in Uruguay, who has become a citizen of Nicaragua after moving to the country to play for Real Esteli. FIFA rules state a naturalised player has to live in a country for five years before they can play for that country.
Rodriguez had not done that before debuting for Nicaragua in 2019 and still was not eligible prior to playing in this season’s Nations League tournament. He has 19 caps for Nicaragua.
The major beneficiaries from the decision are Trinidad and Tobago who now slot into Group A with the USA, Caribbean arch rivals Jamaica, and a qualifier from the preliminary rounds. They open their campaign against the qualifier on June 25 in Fort Lauderdale.
Trinidad and Tobago move up by virtue of being the highest second-placed team overall from League B groups in the 2022/23 CNL. They also replace Nicaragua in League A of the 2023/24 CNL.
Antigua and Barbuda take Trinidad and Tobago’s place in the preliminary qualifying rounds and face Guadaloupe in the first match of qualifying on June 16.
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