In last night’s Gold Cup match between French Guiana and Honduras, former Chelsea winger Florent Malouda played the whole 90 minutes for the national team of his native French Guiana, despite having been ruled ineligible before the tournament because he had already capped 80 times for the French national team.
Because FIFA and CONCACAF rules aren’t always in sync, the 37-year-old Malouda is allowed to play for French Guiana, a French territory, in CONCACAF regional tournaments, but not in FIFA tournaments. Though the Gold Cup is not technically governed by FIFA rules, CONCACAF ruled before the tournament that he was not allowed to play because the Gold Cup would be operating under FIFA rules. But after French Guiana lost 4-2 to Canada in their opening game, the team apparently decided it didn’t care about the rules and Malouda was included in the starting lineup for the game against Honduras, which ended in a 0-0 draw.
“It was great. It was very emotional for me, I’ve waited a long time for the approval to be able to play,” Malouda said, per ESPN. “It’s a great honour for me to wear the armband and represent French Guiana in this level of competition, and that’s very important for the people in my country as well, and so it’s great to be out there.”
CONCACAF wasn’t impressed. Its statement said:
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.
Honduras will likely be granted a 3-0 victory by forfeit. Malouda says he plans to play in the final game of the group stage on Friday.