TT Football Association (TTFA) normalisation committee chairman Robert Hadad has called on stakeholders to respect the Government’s decision to not grant T&T permission to play their opening 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifier, against Guyana, on March 25, on home soil.
On Saturday, the TTFA issued a statement noting the Ministry of Health’s decision to prohibit the match in a hot-bubble on local soil. The TTFA then took a decision to stage the match at the Pan American Stadium in Dominican Republic.
The association said that numerous proposals and scenarios were put forward to the Ministry of Health, Sport Company of T&T and other relevant Government agencies. However, they were all declined and a neutral location was selected.
On Sunday, Hadad said playing a home game on foreign ground was regrettable, but he believes the Government’s decision was made to protect the T&T citizens from further spread of covid19.
“Well playing at home will always be advantageous. It is unfortunate (to play in Dominican Republic) but we will make it happen. The Government is being careful with exposing the country to more risk. We must respect their decision,” said Hadad.
National men’s coach Terry Fenwick expressed disappointment on Saturday. Fenwick drew reference to numerous countries who were able to facilitate bio-secure bubbles for foreign players and successfully host their respective domestic and World Cup qualifier matches.
He said “poor planning” may have been a key factor as to why T&T was not being allowed to secure approval for the game.
Hadad disagreed with the veteran English coach.
“The head coach, like the staff and football-loving public, is frustrated at not being able to play the qualifier on home soil, but it is not a matter of bad planning. It’s the decision and position of the Government given the current health protocols.
“After coming out of (FIFA) suspension, Concacaf confirmed the schedule (World Cup qualifier) on December 4. Just before Christmas, the TTFA began meeting with relevant stakeholders to figure out solutions to play the game in Trinidad.
“But of course, now, we will be playing the game at the Pan American Stadium in Dominican Republic,” he added.
Meanwhile, Newsday understands Guyana has yet to receive official confirmation from Concacaf on a venue change.
An official, who wished to stay anonymous, said the Guyana Football Federation (GFF) understands T&T’s health protocols and will do all it can to facilitate a venue change, once agreed and confirmed by the sport’s regional body.