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SVGFF awaiting decision by FIFA on GFF protest

SVGFF awaiting decision by FIFA on GFF protest

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The St Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation (SVGFF) is awaiting a decision by FIFA following a protest filed by the Guyana Football Federation (GFF) that one of the players who represented St Vincent and the Grenadines in the recent World Cup qualifiers was ineligible.

The GFF has written to FIFA, the world {{more}}governing body for football, claiming that Gavin James, who played with Vincy Heat in the World Cup qualifiers on June 10 and 14, did not possess a Vincentian passport.

James, who holds a British passport, was born in England of Vincentian parents and is therefore eligible to hold a St Vincent and the Grenadines passport. All four of his grandparents were also born in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

General secretary of the SVGFF Trevor Huggins indicated to SEARCHLIGHT that his secretariat had covered the bases in the matter.

“Prior to the first match, we applied for the passport, which … would have taken two weeks, but we got a stamp from the Immigration here to state his citizenship.”

Huggins noted that since the inquiry was made by the GFF, the SVGFF has sent off the pertinent documents to FIFA.

“We have sent off the copy of the stamp in his passport from theImmigration, a letter from the Immigration stating that he had applied for citizenship, but was awaiting his passport, copy of his birth certificate, copies of his parents certificates, as well as the section of the St Vincent and the Grenadines constitution which relates to citizenship and so on,” Huggins reported.

James, who plays for the Flackwell Heath Football Club in England, started in the first leg match here at Arnos Vale on June 10 and travelled to Guyana for the away leg four days later.

FIFA regulations for the 2018 World Cup qualifiers dictate that passports are the only valid proof of a player’s identity and nationality. It further states that each player’s passport must be shown to FIFA’s match delegate the day before kickoff and that identity cards or other supporting official documents shall not be accepted.

In the case of the Guyanese, four of their overseas based players — all born in England — Matthew Briggs, Neil Danns, Sam Cox and Marcel Barrington were required to sit out the first match, as they did not possess a Guyanese passport. On gaining the prerequisite, however, they were placed on the roster for their home match.

Huggins said that on both occasions, the stamp in James’ British passport was provided to the match commissioners of both matches who gave him the green light to play.

The two fixtures ended in draws; St Vincent and the Grenadines had to come from behind twice to level 2-2 in the first leg here. It was the opposite in the reverse match, as Guyana had to claw their way back from a 4-2 deficit to draw 4-4 on their home soil.

The Vincentians advanced to the third round by virtue of the away goals ruling.

If, however, FIFA finds James to be in contravention of the rules, it is understood that the result will be reversed, a fine will be imposed on the SVGFF and the tie awarded to Guyana with a 3-0 score line and a passage to round three of the qualifiers.

In the 2014 World Cup qualifiers, seven African countries were found to have fielded ineligible players during the group stages. This resulted in the results being overturned and three points and 3-0 wins awarded to their opponents.

Up to press time on Wednesday, no response had been received from FIFA in relation to the GFF protest.

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