Despite some controversy and confusion, CONCACAF has ruled against French Guiana in their Florent Malouda eligibility case.
In a press release, CONCACAF announced that French Guiana would forfeit their 0-0 draw against Honduras for fielding an ineligible player. The result will be changed to a 3-0 win in favor of Honduras, altering the shape of Group A entering the final matchday on Friday. In addition to the forfeit, the French Guiana Football League will be fined an undisclosed amount, and Florent Malouda will be suspended for two official matches which includes a full stadium ban.
Malouda appeared and played a full 90 minutes for French Guiana on Tuesday in the team’s 0-0 draw against Honduras. He played despite French Guiana knowing that Malouda was ineligible by FIFA rules after representing France at the international level over 80 times in his career. The team decided to take the risk knowing that a decision might go against them, and despite earning a solid draw, the official scoreline will show nothing but a 3-0 loss for their efforts.
The decision, while certainly the expected result, it was not without controversy. There was great debate after Malouda’s appearance on whether French Guiana’s status as a non-FIFA member meant that FIFA’s eligibility rules did not apply to them. However, CONCACAF has made clear with this decision that they intend to stand by their initial ruling that they would enforce FIFA’s rules despite any questions of French Guiana’s status.
The decision also provides controversy in Group A. Malouda did not play against Canada, who won the match 4-2, and so that result will stand. After Tuesday’s draw, Canada sat atop Group A with four points and a +2 goal differential, even with Costa Rica on points and three points above both Honduras and French Guiana. Now, Honduras will have three points and a +2 goal differential themselves. Before the decision, a win, draw, or loss by less than two goals would’ve secured advancement for Canada, and now only a win or draw will do.
Meanwhile, the suspension of Malouda will give Costa Rica a distinct advantage in their match on Friday, almost guaranteeing their advancement barring a major upset.