Who remembers the 1974 Haiti-T&T qualifier in Port-au-Prince?
Extra, Extra From CONCACAF: Mexico Ousted In Qualifiers! Haiti got the spot, which just might have been because the final 6-team group was held in Port-au-Prince. In the Haiti-Trinidad & Tobago game, the Salvadoran referee, undoubtedly thinking about the pins the fans were just about to stick in his effigy, disallowed no less than 4 goals by the visitors. He was later suspended, but undoubtedly felt he came out ahead.
He told me about the 1974 World Cup qualifier and how Trinidad and Tobago missed it through a catastrophe in the make or break game against Haiti. Apparently the team had four goals called back. Haiti eventually won the game, but FIFA suspended all of the referees for life. Nevertheless, Trinidad and Tobago was robbed the opportunity to go to Germany in 1974. You can see the tears and passion in his eyes as he lamented on this missed opportunity to represent Trinidad and Tobago in that World Cup.
The Trinidad and Tobago Football Association was founded in 1904 and affiliated to FIFA in 1964. Though this is the first-time they have made it to the World Cup Finals, the injustice that caused Trinidad and Tobago’s failure to qualify for the 1974 Finals in Germany still rankles. Only one country qualified from the CONCACAF region at that time and after cruising through the First Round group stage, Trinidad and Tobago had to contend with Haiti, Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala and the Netherlands Antilles for a place in the finals. The matches were played in Haiti and the bald facts are that Trinidad and Tobago finished second to the hosts and had the best goal difference in the group. A 4-0 drubbing of Mexico showed the quality of that Trinidad and Tobago team, which would have been on the plane to Germany had they managed to draw or beat Haiti. Instead the game finished 2-1to Haiti after a series of bizarre decisions by the match officials, all to the detriment of Trinidad and Tobago. Subsequently, Jose Enrique, the Salvadoran referee and James Higuet, the Canadian referee’s assistant were suspended by FIFA. Trinidad and Tobago dominated the game from start to finish, had four goals disallowed and hit the post. The fact that every Trinidad and Tobago player later got a gold watch from the then President of Haiti, ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier was little consolation.
Port-au-Prince was as silent as a grave on December 4, 1973. On that afternoon, at the Sylvio Cator Stadium, fair play died and nearly two dozen Trinidad and Tobago footballers grieved its passing.
Haiti had just defeated Trinidad and Tobago 2-1 in a World Cup qualifying group match but even the home fans did not celebrate the final shrill of the whistle. The awkward silence was broken by the tears of star striker and policeman, Steve David, and some of his colleagues.
The visitors banded together and headed off the ground in silence. They ignored requests for interviews from the Mexican media and refused to shake hands with their Haitian opponents.
For the first time, Trinidad and Tobago had progressed to the final World Cup qualifying phase of the Concacaf zone but was on the verge of being eliminated in the most unjust manner. On five occasions, the twin island nation got the ball in the back of the Haitian net but each effort was mysteriously overruled by the match officials save for one David item.
No one left the hotel that night as each player kept his own counsel. The feeling of injustice was everywhere in the Trinidad and Tobago camp.
"This is madness," said gifted midfielder Everald ' Gally' Cummings to no-one in particular.
I wonder... Who among you remembers the match as related above?