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Barbados’ Nations League qualifying hopes have been handed a severe blow, after the Barbados Football Association was hit with a sanction from continental governing body, CONCACAF, for fielding two ineligible players in the country’s opening game against Guyana.

Barbados earned a hard fought 2-2 draw in the fixture away in Leonora in September but CONCACAF yesterday overturned the result and awarded the match to Guyana by a 3-0 scoreline.

At the centre of the controversy are the England-based pair of Hallam Hope and Krystian Pearce, both of whom made their international debut for Barbados in that fixture.

Hope dazzled in the Guyana fixture, scoring a second half-brace to put Barbados ahead after they had fallen behind to a first-half strike by Trayon Bobb.

Guyana football authorities subsequently filed a protest with football’s world governing body, FIFA, contending that Hope had not received the appropriate clearance to represent Barbados.

In a statement, CONCACAF said following an investigation, its Disciplinary Committee had decided to sanction Barbados due to the ineligible players.

“The Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (Concacaf) today announced its Disciplinary Committee has decided to sanction the Barbados Football Association, by declaring as a forfeit the CONCACAF Nations League Qualifying match played against Guyana, on September 6, 2018,” the governing body for football in North, Central America and the Caribbean said.

“After due examination of the evidence, the Committee determined that the Barbados Football Association infringed the applicable articles of the Tournament Regulations and the Regulations Governing the Application of the FIFA Statutes in relation to the eligibility of players to play for representative teams by fielding ineligible players Hallam Hope and Krystian Pearce.

“In accordance with articles 55 and 31 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code, the Barbados Football Association is considered to have lost the match against Guyana by a score of 3-0.”

Both Hope and Pearce also played in the Match-Day two fixture against El Salvador in the Central American country in October, when Barbados slumped to a 3-0 defeat.

And CONCACAF said the result would stand.

“The result of the match played against El Salvador on October 13, 2018 is upheld in accordance with article 31 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code, with a score of 3-0 in favor of El Salvador,” the statement added.

Efforts to contact BFA officials last night proved futile.

Hope is a 25-year-old winger who currently plays for English League Two club Carlisle United. He was born in England but qualifies to play for Barbados through his father.

Pearce, meanwhile, is a 28-year-old defender who represents Mansfield Town, also in League Two. The six-footer, who has played for England at the Under-17 and Under-19 level, qualifies for Barbados duty also through his father.

The decision by CONCACAF to sanction the BFA is a blow to Barbados’ campaign and leaves them with two defeats and a single win – a 3-0 blanking of the US Virgin Islands at the Wildey Astro Turf last month.

Neither Pearce or Hope played in that fixture as goals from local players Hadan Holligan, Raheim Sargeant and Mario Harte gave the hosts an emphatic victory.

With the Guyana win forfeited, Barbados have now slipped to 23rd on three points in the 34-nation competition that serves as a qualifier for the prestigious CONCACAF Gold Cup next year.

They have one remaining match in the series when they host Central American side Nicaragua in a difficult fixture next March.

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