CONCACAF suspends Florent Malouda two games, fines French Guiana federation
At long last and at an odd hour, CONCACAF gave some clarity to the situation surrounding former France and Chelsea star Florent Malouda and the French Guiana national team.
The regional confederation announced that as a consequence of fielding the ineligible Malouda in a 0–0 draw against Honduras, Malouda himself will be suspended for two games and the French Guiana federation will be fined an undisclosed amount. As expected, the result against Honduras will also be invalidated. Officially speaking, French Guiana forfeits that game, meaning it goes in the books as a 3–0 win for Honduras.
With that win, Honduras remains in third place in Gold Cup Group A, but is now only one point behind co-leaders Canada and Costa Rica, who each have four points. Crucially, Honduras also went from a -1 to a +2 goal difference, which is the first tiebreaker in determining group standings.
The sanctions imposed on French Guiana may not be all that surprising, but the timing of their announcement is. After promising that it would come on Thursday, CONCACAF released its disciplinary decision shortly before 3 a.m. on Friday morning, long after most of those interested had gone to sleep. It's weird timing to say the least, but such oddities have become the norm in CONCACAF, especially in this saga with Malouda which has played out over the last week.
Because of his lengthy and successful national team career with France, Malouda's inclusion on French Guiana's Gold Cup roster came as a surprise. But it also made a little bit of sense. French Guiana is an overseas territory of France, not an independent country, and as such it isn't officially recognized by FIFA. And while FIFA statues dictate that a player must stick with their chosen national team, that only applies to FIFA nations. In other words: French Guiana doesn't have to play by FIFA's rules, so they decided not to.
However, CONCACAF, which administers the Gold Cup, does play by FIFA's rules. The organization told SI.com's Brian Straus before the Gold Cup that Malouda was ineligible to play for French Guiana in the tournament, though they emphasized that they could not physically stop Malouda from playing at some point.
That turned out to be relevant for French Guiana's second game against Honduras, for which Malouda started and was named captain.
French Guiana's final group match is tonight against Costa Rica. It will likely be the team's last in the Gold Cup.