Hinds: National Security ‘very open’ to review of citizenship laws to benefit sport

Minister of National Security Fitzgerald Hinds. - File photo by Angelo Marcelle
Minister of National Security Fitzgerald Hinds. - File photo by Angelo Marcelle

MINISTER of National Security Fitzgerald Hinds confirmed that his ministry is “very open” to assisting the process of making amendments or changes to Trinidad and Tobago’s immigration laws, to bolster the nation’s talent pool and strengthen the country’s chances of competing in world football.

Hinds was responding to a question posed by Newsday on July 8, regarding calls made by senior men’s team coach Angus Eve and former Soca Warriors captain Dwight Yorke, for a possible review of TT’s citizenship laws.

Chapter two, section 17 (ii) of the TT Constitution states that “A person shall not become a citizen of TT, if at the time of his birth – (a) neither of his parents is a citizen of TT.”

Unlike the majority of other Caribbean territories, which can invite players whose grandparents have local lineage, to represent their nation on the international stage, TT is limited to calling on players whose parent/s have TT lineage.

In international football and other sports, it is common for players who would find it difficult to break into the national team of their birth country to seek other options through naturalisation or eligibility via ancestral lineage.

Both Eve, in January 2023, and Yorke, in May 2024, hinted at constitutional reform to beef up TT’s available talent, which by extension, would increase the nation’s chance of gaining FIFA World Cup qualification.

Eve made these statements after English League One defender and TT target Ryan Inniss of Charlton Athletic FC was unable to earn a national call-up because he did not meet the legal requirements.

Yorke also shared similar sentiments after the Legends versus All-Stars match which featured former Brazil standouts Cafu, Kaka and Rivaldo.

When asked if the law could be altered for that to happen, Hinds said he’s already held talks with Minister of Sport and Community Development Shamfa Cudjoe and Attorney General Reginald Armour on this matter and is in “full support.”

“I certainly heard from the sports minister and AG, this is a matter that arose around us. National security is very open to any policy shifts that might emanate from the sports ministry in this regard. And it is the AG as the government’s legal adviser who will draft any necessary amendments to the immigration act or whatever might be necessary to facilitate that.”

Hinds agreed that TT has/continues to be “largely successful” on the international sporting stage and believes a potential law amendment could benefit sport immensely.

“If there is anything we can do to enhance that we most certainly would. The Minister of Sport did raise that matter with me and she is aware that she has the full support of this minister representing national security.”

When asked if the involved ministries were actively considering this option or would work on it at a later date, Hinds added, “We do nothing passively. We are very active on the job and in service of the people of TT.”

In response to Hinds’s statements, coach Eve said such an amendment serves to benefit TT not only in sport, but all other fields, as it opens a window of opportunity in all sectors, for a broader range of multi-dimensional talents that could represent the red, white and black.

“If they are reviewing it for the betterment of, not just for football but for everyone as a whole in the country because there are a lot more professional people who can come back into the country in different capacities to continue in the development of TT,” Eve said.

“If it is looked at, it could possibly enhance what we do in TT by getting more professional people, whether it be sports, business or anything. It wouldn’t only augur well for sport but holistically, it broadens our talent pool in different fields; people who can give back to the country that their parents or grandparents were born in.”

TT have already begun their FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign with a 2-2 draw against Grenada (June 5) and a 7-1 thumping of Bahamas (June 8). Their next two qualifiers kick off on June 6, 2025, against St Kitts and Nevis, and continue on June 10 against Costa Rica.

The 2026 World Cup will be held in the US, Canada and Mexico from June 11 – July 19, 2026 and will, for the first time, feature 48 teams, expanded from 32.


"Hinds: National Security ‘very open’ to review of citizenship laws to benefit sport"

More in this section