Haiti soccer
Haitian soccer players during a training session on May 30 at Wildey Turf in Barbados. Photo credit: Haitian Football Federation (FHF)

Overview:

Just five days before Haiti enters the next round of its FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifying campaign, only 11 players from a 24-man roster have shown up at a training camp in Barbados, highlighting the team’s administrative struggles.

CAP-HAITIEN— As of June 1, the Haiti Men’s National Soccer Team should have been in full swing, preparing for the next stage of the FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifying campaign, which begins in five days. However, only 11 out of a 24-man roster have arrived in Barbados for a training camp ahead of the team’s first two matches. While this is somewhat shocking for some, it is expected by many, given the Haitian Football Federation’s (FHF) history of poor administration.

“This doesn’t surprise us,” said Sports Analyst Shellena Augustin. “In terms of preparation, this committee has scored zero points. This isn’t a good look for the country or people involved in sports. It’s like we’re forcing ourselves to play football. People are not going to take us seriously. This doesn’t please us.”

To make matters worse, the players will have limited training time under the new head coach, Frenchman Sébastien Migné, who was appointed on March 10. Migné’s only game with the team was a warm-up match against French Guiana on March 23, which ended in a 1-1 draw.

Les Grenadiers will kick off their World Cup Qualifying campaign with a home game at Wildey Turf in Barbados against Saint Lucia on June 6. Due to ongoing gang violence in Port-au-Prince, the team is playing its home games away from its Sylvio Cator Stadium. After facing Saint Lucia, Haiti will play Barbados in an away match still at Wildey Turf on June 9.

The Concacaf qualifiers consist of five groups of five. The top two teams from each group advance to the next round of three groups of four. From that last round of games, the winner of each group will qualify directly for the FIFA World Cup 2026, joining hosts Canada, Mexico and the United States.

Haiti’s soccer team has long struggled with administrative issues, mirroring the country’s broader challenges. Over the years, players have missed games due to issues such as not having visas or failing to meet COVID-19 protocols. In 2021, Haiti even started an Olympic qualifying game against Honduras with 10 players because the rest of the squad arrived too late to take the required COVID-19 test before the match.

“A reform is needed. In anything related to sports in the country, people are not up to par. All the people who’ve been here for a while, take them out. Switch things around.”

Sports Analyst Shellena Augustin

More recently, on May 29, FHF canceled the women’s soccer team’s two friendly games against Ecuador because some delegation members did not have visas.

“A communication error is at the basis of this cancellation because the initial information suggested that these members would not need entry visas to this South American country, but it turned out that it was necessary,” FHF stated in a note.

FHF officials have yet to comment on the 13 players from the 24-man roster still missing in Barbados and did not respond to Go West Now’ interview request.

Due to these constant administrative errors, Augustin said a change is desperately needed in FHF’s leadership. FHF has been led by a normalization committee since 2020 after its former president, Yves ‘Dadou’ Jean-Bart and other ex-members were banned by the International Federation of Football Association (FIFA) for being accused of sexually abusing players.

“A reform is needed,” Augustin said. “In anything related to sports in the country, people are not up to par. All the people who’ve been here for a while, take them out. Switch things around.”

Three players initially made it to Barbados on May 27: forward Mondy Prunier, fullback Markhus “Duke” Lacroix, central midfielder Belmar Joseph Junior, and defensive midfielder Leverton Pierre. Forward Bryan Labissiere and defender Francois Ulysse joined on May 29. On May 30, goalkeeper and captain Johny Placide and defender Jean Kevin Duverne landed in Barbados. Goalkeeper Alexandre Pierre and fullbacks Carlens Arcus and Stephane Lambese arrived on May 31, according to FHF’s social media pages

Some players had crucial games with their clubs recently, which could explain their absence, such as midfielder Danley Jean-Jacques, who played a relegation playoff match for French club F.C. Metz on May 30. However, many other players were available or did not have important club commitments last week.

Two players from the local league have been selected to take part in the qualifiers: newly crowned champions Real Hope Football Academy goalkeeper Gooly Elien and defensive midfielder Olivier Woodensky Pierre. It is still unknown if they will make it to Barbados.

In March, six local players were also called up to play in Haiti’s friendly game against French Guiana but could not make the trip due to the suspension of all international commercial flights in Haiti caused by gang violence.

Pierre, a 19-year-old representing Haiti at the youth level, received his first call for the senior side. The Cité Soleil native hopes that administrative or security issues won’t prevent him from realizing his dream of playing for the senior team.

“I was so happy that I couldn’t sleep,” Pierre said about the night he saw that he made the roster. “I’m waiting to see how things will unfold. I want to see what my capability will bring to the team.”

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Onz Chery is a Haiti correspondent for Go West Now. Chery started his journalism career as a City College of New York student with The Campus. He later wrote for First Touch, local soccer leagues in New York and Elite Sports New York before joining Go West Now in 2019.

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