After the shocking elimination of the national team by lowly-ranked Nicaragua the officials at the Haitian federation of football (fédération haitienne de football, FHF) point fingers at everyone but the real culprits who are none others than themselves. Immediately after the whopping 3-0 defeat that sent the Grenadiers crashing, the officiating of the game was blamed for the unwanted outcome and the FHF quickly signaled that it was going to take it to FIFA for arbitration, a move that was met with indifference from a public that no longer anything positive from the FHF.
Since the public was clearly not amused with the uninspired joke, the FHF wasted no time to find the next excuse: the players did not try hard enough!
At this rate, it is a matter of times before the government, the private sector, the pitch, the fans, and even FIFA are blamed for the defeat.
However, if you ask the supporters who is responsible for the elimination the answer would be unanimous: the FHF! In fact, they would be correct. For years, the FHF has advocating a football policy that requires players to be based abroad before they can actually be eligible to represent their own country. From mid 2013 to mid 2016, less than 5 different players from Haiti actually made the national team. That is the lowest rate of local participation in a national team of any country in the region. Ironically, Haitian players based in less advanced football environments like Bangladesh and the French lowest level of amateur football (CFA B) were regular starters of the national team!
During that period, the FHF hired Marc Collat with the mandate to stay in France and select only players of Haitian origin from that country. Needless to say when Haiti lost to Jamaica in Port-Au-Prince, most of the players and the coach were more stranger to Haiti than the Jamaicans themselves. Nine French citizens represented Haiti in that game while the local players were forced to sit aside and watch their country losing.
Ironically, blaming the abroad players is nothing new with the FHF. After the debacle at the Copa America Centenario where Haiti conceded 12 goals in 3 matches to finish last of the 16 team tournament, the FHF decided that the foreign-based players did not play hard enough. They timidly called up a few local players who quickly outshone the expensive foreign recruits. The public fell in love again with the national team. Haiti even beat arch-rival Jamaica 2-0.
Unfortunately, the FHF was secretly plotting the ouster of the locals whom they consider of inferior quality compared to the ones playing abroad despite that has been proven incorrect on the pitch. Merely weeks after the victory over Jamaica, most of the players were replaced by the very same players who failed at the Copa America. The result was a 5-2 loss to French Guiane! Only 3 Haiti’s locals were used in the game whereas the visiting team featured 6 of its own local players including one Haitian!
Haiti eventually wrestled out a playoff berth for the Gold Cup after the squad was slightly tweaked to play a couple more local and Us-based players. The result was a 2-0 win in extra time over St Kitts and Nevis. Four locals and 2 US-based players joined force to give Haiti the victory.
During the three-way playoffs a combination of locals and US-based players dominated Suriname and Trinidad to prove that their victory over Jamaica was not a coincidence. They were indeed the A-team of Haiti. They were combative and dominant like a typical Haitian team should be. Yet again, the FHF refused to accept the facts.
Despite that the mostly local and US-based team easily won the tree team playoffs, for the actual final playoffs versus Nicaragua, most of the players but 3 were unceremoniously replaced by members of the old squad! From the last game versus Trinidad which was won 4-3 to the games versus Nicaragua, 8 new starters were featured! On what criteria did the FHF and its coach replace 8 starters without any training sessions in less than 2 months?
Eight starters who have scored a victory over powerhouse Trinidad were replaced for the next match versus low-ranked Nicaragua?
No, the players do not deserve the blame. After all, they did not force the officials to disband the winning team and they did not call themselves up. They could choose not to show up but they did because they were told that they alone can represent Haiti. The president of the FHF himself declared that no one in Haiti can play football and that only players from abroad have the level to play for “his natioanl team”.
As you can see, the players are themselves victims of the FHF’s machinations. From making disparaging statements on local players to sabotaging the local league and downplay the importance of Haitian football to gathering foreign-born players without providing them any training and real accommodations, the FHF has set the stage for failures. Officials of the national team divide Haitian players into those who are in Haiti and those abroad. And they further separate the abroad players based on where they play with the ones in France have direct starter status whether they can actually play or not! A good player based in Haiti has nearly zero chance to play while a player based in USA only receives some playing time if there are no other players from France or Europe on the list.
This form of segregation makes it nearly impossible to create and maintain a good national team. A national team cannot have a different squad for every match.