French Guiana knowingly plays ineligible Malouda in Gold Cup, must forfeit
Even in the continually-crazy world of CONCACAF, this is a new one. It's not often that any team in any sport purposely forfeits a game to intentionally field an ineligible player.
A little background: Former Chelsea and France national team star Florent Malouda was a surprise inclusion on French Guiana's roster for the CONCACAF Gold Cup, because, well, he's a former France national team star.
Thanks to a litany of regulations put forth by CONCACAF (if not FIFA), Malouda was determined to be ineligible to play for French Guiana in the Gold Cup, precisely because of his former career with France. More information about that can be found in Brain Straus' story about Malouda's inclusion and eligibility, which includes this soon-to-be-relevant snippet:
Malouda's ineligibility was confirmed to SI.com by a CONCACAF spokesperson late Thursday.
"The rules say he's ineligible," the spokesperson said. "We are using FIFA rules, and so a player who has played in an official match for a different [national team] cannot play in Gold Cup. More precisely, he is not eligible to play. He can play, but he's not eligible."
And this is where this gets weird. As the spokesperson said, Malouda can play. CONCACAF can't physically stop him from taking the field. It can only rule the game a forfeit if he does.
On Tuesday against Honduras, French Guiana decided to put that to the test.
Yep, that's Malouda, starting at left midfield. French Guiana had intentionally forfeited the game, simply to have the former Champions League and EPL winner on the field during the game. A game, which went on as normal and ended in a 0–0 draw.
Now it's off to the CONCACAF Disciplinary Committee, which by rule must decide French Guiana's fate after this stunt. CONCACAF issued the following statement after the match:
"In regards to the election of the French Guiana National Team to field player Florent Malouda in this evening's Gold Cup match against the Honduras National Team, and in line with the CONCACAF Gold Cup 2017 Regulations which are governed by FIFA Regulations pertaining to player eligibility, the matter has been referred to the CONCACAF Gold Cup Disciplinary Committee. The Disciplinary Committee will review the case and render its decision in due time."
It's possible that the committee could declare Malouda eligible, and the result will stand. As unlikely as that seems, remember that this is CONCACAF: the absurd gift that keeps on giving.