Trinidad and Tobago will feature in Monday’s draw for the preliminaries of the CONCACAF Gold Cup despite being slapped with a ban by football’s world governing body, FIFA.
However, if the Caribbean side does not have the suspension revoked by FIFA by December 18, Antigua and Barbuda will replace them in the 12-team tournament scheduled for next July, continental governing body CONCACAF announced Friday.
The decision followed an emergency meeting of CONCACAF’s council late Thursday night, and offered T&T a ray of hope of still competing in the confederation showpiece.
“For the purposes of the 2021 Gold Cup draw, scheduled to take place on Monday, September 28, at 8:00 pm ET, Trinidad and Tobago will be drawn in the Prelims as planned,” the CONCACAF statement said.
“However, they will only participate in the competition if the suspension imposed on the TTFA is lifted by FIFA by 5:00 pm ET on December 18, 2020.
“If the suspension imposed on the TTFA is not lifted by FIFA by 5:00 pm ET on December 18, 2020, Trinidad and Tobago will be replaced in the Gold Cup Prelims by the Antigua and Barbuda Football Association as the next highest-ranked team based on their 2019 Concacaf Nations League performance.”
T&T was last week banned by FIFA for what the governing body termed “grave violations of the FIFA Statutes”.
The TT Football Association had provoked FIFA’s ire by taking them to court over their decision to remove the William Wallace-led administration and install a normalisation committee last March.
And the stand-off reached crisis stage last month when the Trinidad and Tobago high court ruled against FIFA, saying that the dispute between them and the former TTFA executives could be heard in the local jurisdiction instead of the Switzerland-based Court of Arbitration for Sport, as contended by the world governing body.
FIFA subsequently warned the local FA their court action had “greatly [endangered] the overall football structure in the country and [endangered] the position of Trinidad and Tobago football internationally”.
T&T, ranked 93rd in the FIFA rankings, are among 12 teams including the Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Cuba, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Montserrat and St Vincent and the Grenadines, expected to do battle for the last three spots in the 16-team group stage of the Gold Cup.
T&T qualified for the preliminaries as the third-place finishers in Group C of League A when they failed to win any of their two matches.