English League One defender Ryan Inniss of Charlton Athletic FC is one of several European-based players who have impressed Trinidad and Tobago men's football coach Angus Eve but who do not meet the legal requirements to earn a national call-up.
This is because Chapter two, section 17 (ii) of the T&T Constitution states that “A person shall not become a citizen of T&T, if at the time of his birth – (a) neither of his parents is a citizen of T&T.”
This law, Soca Warriors head coach Angus Eve said, is detrimental and hampering the expansion of T&T football, and its player pool, while smaller nations capitalise on available players and move forward.
He said the majority of other Caribbean territories can invite players whose grandparents have local lineage, to represent their nation on the international stage.
T&T, however, is limited to calling on players whose parent/s have T&T 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.
Eve, a former senior team captain, addressed the issue at Wednesday’s senior team training session at Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo.
With the 2026 FIFA World Cup, hosted by the US, Canada and Mexico, set to feature 48 nations instead of 32, Eve believes T&T’s chance of making its second World Cup appearance has increased.
He said the chances could be even more favourable if the law is changed to help widen the talent pool.
Eve said, “Jamaica has about 15 new players; Curacao are bringing in a lot of players from Holland; French Guiana doing the same; and Grenada are doing the same.
“We are the only country, because of our laws we cannot bring people in whose grandparents are Trinidadian.
“Yesterday we watched Ryan Inniss play, and he has always been on the radar for T&T. But his grandfather is the Trinidadian and Ryan’s father was born in England.”
Eve drew reference to Poland right-back Matty Cash, who was born in England but represented Poland at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
“Teams like Poland with Matty Cash, whose grandparents were Polish. His mom and him (Cash) were born in England, but he was allowed to play based on his lineage. We don’t have that here. Same thing for Jamaica, they can do that and all these other nations,” Eve added.
Currently, Eve is preparing a group of over 30 locally-based footballers for the Concacaf Nations League which kicks off in March. T&T play their opening match on March 24, away to Bahamas – the team which kicked T&T out of its 2022 World Cup qualification.
They play their second match against Nicaragua at home, at the Dwight Yorke Stadium in Tobago.
On his team’s chances at the Nations League, Eve replied, “Well, we’re at the bottom right now. We lost to Caribbean countries in World Cup qualifying, you cannot get much lower than that.
“This is a rebuilding stage, a very young group of players with a couple seniors sprinkled in there. We’re building to the 2026 World Cup.”
SOURCE: T&T Newsday