Former France midfielder Florent Malouda is not eligible to play with French Guiana in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, a CONCACAF spokesperson confirmed Thursday.
French Guiana, which has been an associate member of CONCACAF since 1991 and a full member since 2013, is set to take part in the continental championship for the first time and included the former Chelsea winger in its final 23-man squad. Malouda took part in both of the non-FIFA member's Caribbean Cup matches earlier this summer, but with the Gold Cup using FIFA regulations, the spokesperson said the 37-year-old is not eligible to take part. Though he played for France nearly 80 times, including matches in two World Cups, Malouda was born in Cayenne, the capital of French Guiana. The area is classified as an overseas region and department of France.
The CONCACAF spokesperson said there has been "some messaging" to French Guiana's federation that the player does not fit under the rules. In previous tournaments, players who had not represented another national team for five years were eligible for selection, with Martinique fielding Jocelyn Angloma at the 2007 tournament after the defender won nearly 40 caps with France between 1990-1996. Martinique, which has the same political and FIFA status as French Guiana, had former Bordeaux and West Ham winger Julien Faubert on its provisional roster. But the one-time France player was left off the final squad.
In contrast to 2007, a rule tweak indicating players taking part must be "eligible for selection in accordance with the provisions of the applicable FIFA regulations," is now in the tournament regulations. The same wording appears in the 2015 rules, a slight update from 2013's requirement that names a specific FIFA statute.
"In 2017, 10 years later, the rules are in place. The player eligibility rules are those of FIFA, meaning that a player who is cap-tied to another national team isn't going to be able to play at the Gold Cup for another tam in CONCACAF," the spokesperson said.
According to Sports Illustrated, French Guiana coach Jair Karam said Malouda "is going to play" Friday when French Guiana opens the tournament against Canada.
The CONCACAF spokesperson indicated that if Malouda does play, the procedure would be the same as any other time CONCACAF became aware of a team fielding an ineligible player with the confederation automatically beginning the disciplinary process, including match forfeiture.