Perhaps unsurprisingly, CONCACAF decided to release their decision on the Florent Malouda case when most of the east coast was asleep.
The governing body announced that French Guiana would forfeit their Gold Cup game against Honduras late last night after the former France star was deemed ineligible to have played. The 0-0 draw will become a 3-0 Honduras win and Malouda will be suspended for two matches (a hilarious detail that is rather like announcing he is banned and banned).
I suppose French Guiana will now have to leave Malouda out of their team - his ban does not even permit him to be in the stadium - against Costa Rica or risk severe punishment that goes beyond this tournament, so at least we can say that tonight’s other Group A game will not be compromised.
In terms of making a farce of the first round, however, the damage is done. Any win for Honduras against Canada tonight will see them overtake Octavio Zambrano’s men, when based on actual results the Canadians should have a small margin for error.
Even if Canada avoid defeat and remain in the top two, there is a good chance a third-place side from one of the other two groups will be knocked out by a Honduras team that would not have won a game.
There was effectively no way in which CONCACAF could come out of this unscathed from the moment it was revealed Malouda was ineligible but French Guiana were not willing to cooperate.
While the team’s decision to stage a protest in the middle of the tournament leaves a sour taste in the mouth, it is astonishing that CONCACAF did not think to communicate the problem when the squads were submitted. It is almost as if the confederation did not know its own rule book either and did not spot the issue.
If they did know, taking a passive, not-our-responsibility approach towards something that threatened the integrity of their tournament is inexcusable.
We can only hope now that they have learned their lesson. One way or another, this must be tightened up for future competitions.