For the fifteen or so football fans that are desperate enough to watch mediocre national teams from CONCACAF battle it out for the right to get mauled in the Confederations Cup in 2009, there’s been a beautiful story brewing amidst the mostly-uninspiring play. The tiny island of Guadeloupe, which has been an outlet of France for quite some time – think almost 200 years – has managed to wrangle a spot in the semifinals, where they will meet Mexico on Thursday evening.
But perhaps we shouldn’t be so surprised. Of course, it’s mostly FIFA’s fault. Lots more after the jump.
Guadeloupe is no slouch when it comes to the world footballing scene. On the contrary, such illuminati as Tierry Henry, Louis Saha, William Gallas, Pascal Chimbonda, and Lillian Thuram are of Guadeloupean decent. In fact, if you fielded a team of Guadeloupean players, you’d be pretty well off.
Unfortunately, FIFA does not recognize Guadeloupe as a member, hence, they are not permitted to even qualify for their international competitions. If they manage to pull off a couple of upsets, the team will not be able to play in the Confederations Cup, even though they are ranked higher in the ELO ratings than plenty of teams that have legit chances. The runner-up will get that honor.
Is anyone going to complain if the African representative to the Confederations Cup is Ethiopia, or the European representative is Latvia? Of course not.
Obviously, maintaining an international standard is difficult for ‘Loupe manager Roger Salnot:
During the last ten years Guadeloupe has produced some of the best players of France’s team.
But, in Guadeloupe (also called a French overseas department) football is not a job; when a young player is noticed by French recruiters, he is immediately transferred to some French or European teams.
This is why people dislike FIFA so much. It’s one thing to have an inane rating system. It’s another to possibly exclude a squad who wins an international tournament – especially one that pumps out this much talent. Regardless of what you think of the confederation, any team that wins or has the ability to win a region’s cup deserves some sort of recognition, mostly in the form of bigger stages and brighter lights.
The foremost question now becomes – what’s the motivation?
Well, the fact that the Gwadaboys are playing so well and with guile is a testament to their squad and the island’s love for the sport. If there’s any justice, FIFA will initiate membership procedure to Guadeloupe after this. Perhaps then, they could keep some of their home-grown talent for their national team and make a true splash in CONCACAF.
Truthfully, as much as I’d like to see the U.S. boys defeat Mexico on home soil again, it might be refreshing to see these spirited players – who really have nothing to lose – pump some fear into the American side in the final. I think it’d be good for us.
I’ll be rooting for them on Thursday, that’s for sure.
Check out other people’s love of Guadeloupe, too:
Now, if we could only work on those uniforms – woof.