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Concacaf gives T&T until December 18 to lift suspension
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GOLD CUP WINDOW

Trinidad and Tobago can still compete in the qualifying stage of the 2021 edition Concacaf Gold Cup if, by December 18, the criteria laid down by FIFA for lifting the country’s international ban from football is met.

Yesterday, chairman of the FIFA-imposed normalisation Committee Robert Hadad indicated the national football team still had a chance at playing in the region’s top competition for national football teams.

“I have learned that last night, the Concacaf Council decided that if we meet the requirements laid down by FIFA, and if FIFA lifts the suspension by December 18th, we will be permitted to compete in next summer’s Gold Cup,” Hadad stated via media release.

“However, if the suspension remains in place on that date, we will be automatically replaced,” he noted.

Hadad’s comments were supported by a later release from Concacaf that said, “For the purposes of the 2021 Gold Cup draw, scheduled to take place on Monday, September 28, at 8 p.m. ET, Trinidad and Tobago will be drawn in the Prelims as planned. However, they will only participate in the competition if the suspension imposed on the TTFA is lifted by FIFA by 5 p.m. ET on December 18, 2020.”

National team coach Terry Fenwick was elated at the possibility of a light at the end of the tunnel.

“Absolutely. We must get football going again,” the former England defender said. “It would be devastating to the entire football community if we were not able to go. Hopefully, good sense will prevail.”

FIFA has set two main conditions to be met before reinstating T&T.

“Suspension would only be lifted when the TTFA fully complies with its obligations as a member of FIFA, including recognising the legitimacy of the appointed normalisation committee and bringing its own statutes into line with the FIFA Statutes,” FIFA stated.

Hadad urged the TTFA membership and all football stakeholders to support his committee.

“This presents us with an opportunity but only if we urgently address FIFA’s issues. After recent events, I hope all football stakeholders in our country will work together with the normalisation committee for the benefit of football. We have a very difficult task ahead but we owe it to the coaches, the players, the fans and to future generations to create a well governed and well managed TTFA.”

In an immediate response to FIFA announcing an official ban on the country on Thursday, Hadad had said the TTFA had again found itself in a very negative situation despite the best efforts of his committee.

“On several occasions, we managed to have deadlines extended; and we appealed to the few individuals from the previous regime to drop their legal action and do the right thing,” he stated.

“Unfortunately, those few individuals have put their own interests before the TTFA’s. They knew very well this approach would have serious consequences for football in our country and yet they still pressed ahead with their own agenda. Their actions have had no regard for the coaches, the players and the fans in our country.

“Like the vast majority of stakeholders in our game, I am tired of the legal wrangling, the disputes and the constant focus on off-field problems in our football.”

He reinforced that FIFA will only recognise his committee and not the former TTFA executive headed by president William Wallace.

“The FIFA-appointed normalisation committee is the only way forward; it is still the only recognised body by FIFA and the football family needs to work with us so we can put everything into getting this suspension lifted; it is incumbent on us to come together and fix the TTFA for the good of future generations,” said Hadad.