A decision has not yet been made on whether foreign-based national footballers would be allowed a reduced quarantine period, upon arrival in TT, for the March 25 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Guyana.
This comes after FIFA has allowed clubs to prevent their players from traveling for national duty where quarantine is required for five days or more. Persons entering TT must spend between seven to 14 days quarantine before they are allowed to re-enter the public domain.
This means that several of TT’s talented foreign-based players are not mandated to be released by their respective clubs for the Concacaf World Cup qualifiers. Therefore, if the seven to 14-day quarantine guidelines remain enforced, TT may have to field a totally home-grown squad for the March 25 clash.
With the FIFA rule, special arrangements will have to be made for the TT players trying to return home to represent the national team.
Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh and Minister of Sport Shamfa Cudjoe, on Saturday, confirmed discussions were still under way between the TT Football Association (TTFA) normalisation committee chairman Robert Hadad and Sport Company of TT chairman Douglas Camacho.
Both ministers, however, believe the final decision lies in the hands of chief medical officer Dr Roshan Parasram.
“I think the ultimate decision is being made by the CMO and the Ministry of Health because first and foremost our priority is to keep, not just the players, but our nationals, safe,” said the sports minister.
Cudjoe noted they are exploring several options to facilitate these foreign-based athletes and are even considering playing the match in a regional territory.
“Up to yesterday (Friday) that conversation was still taking place. I know there was the option of having the players play in Curaçao but up to last night, while I was in Parliament, the conversation was still taking place as to protocols and exploring the different options,” she added.
Meanwhile the health minister has been in communication with the associated parties and awaits their final decision to chart a way forward. He also passed the buck to the CMO and local football fraternity.
“The CMO has been in contact with the normalisation committee of the TTFA and I have been in contact with the Minister of Sport. I leave the final decision to the Minister of Sport and the TTFA,” he said on Saturday.
Newsday reached out to Hadad for a response on these developments via WhatsApp. Hadad’s response was merely “Working on it”.
On Thursday, Deyalsingh reiterated that he did not want more cases of the new covid19 variant entering TT and expressed concern about people entering the country and not quarantining properly and possibly bringing in the new variants.
Additionally, national senior team coach Terry Fenwick is hoping he can get the go-ahead to fast-track their quarantine so TT would have a better chance of coming up trumps against the South American team.
In their last international friendly, on January 31, - TT’s first official match in over a year owing to the pandemic – Fenwick’s unit was drubbed 7-0 by Concacaf giants USA.
The availability to more foreign-based players for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers and Gold Cup, in June, plays an integral in Fenwick’s setup going forward.
TT will play Puerto Rico on March 28 in the second match of the World Cup qualifying campaign.