Florent Malouda starts for French Guiana despite being ruled ineligible
French Guiana made the unusual decision of starting Florent Malouda in their Gold Cup clash against Honduras on Tuesday, despite CONCACAF previously ruling the 37-year-old ineligible for the competition.
The ex-Chelsea star, who won 80 caps for France and played in the 2006 World Cup final, was born in the overseas French territory but is cap-tied to Les Bleus.
Because they are a member of CONCACAF but not FIFA, Malouda has previously been able to represent French Guiana -- he helped them win bronze at the Caribbean Cup in June.
But, unlike the Gold Cup, second-tier CONCACAF competitions do not adhere to FIFA's eligibility guidelines.
Despite being named in French Guiana's 23-man squad, a CONCACAF spokesperson confirmed Malouda's ineligibility last week.
"The rules say he's ineligible," the spokesperson told Sports Illustrated.
"We are using FIFA rules, and so a player who has played in an official match for a different [national team] cannot play in the Gold Cup."
Crucially, the spokesperson added: "More precisely, he is not eligible to play. He can play, but he's not eligible."
All of which means that while CONCACAF were not able to stop Malouda entering the field on Tuesday, the match -- which ended in a scoreless draw -- will almost certainly be ruled a 3-0 forfeit in favour of Honduras.
Following the match, CONCACAF issued this statement:
"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."
Despite the controversy, Malouda told ESPN FC that he was honoured to take to the field for French Guiana on Tuesday.
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