The Canadian Soccer Association has had to reverse course on its interpretation of the six-game suspension handed down to forward Olivier Occean that was announced Monday, revealing that FIFA's disciplinary decision will keep the Canadian national team striker out of the mix for most of this summer's Gold Cup.
Occean's suspension, which stems from a red-card incident in a World Cup qualifier against Cuba last October, was originally thought to be for any senior level international, including friendlies.
But the CSA clarified FIFA's ruling by saying that "official" matches under the FIFA Disciplinary Code, in the context of Occean's punishment, refers to competitive matches – i.e. the Gold Cup and World Cup qualifiers, but not friendlies.
As a result, Occean has only served one game of his six-game suspension, Canada's 8-1 loss to Honduras in October 2012 that knocked them out of World Cup contention. The two friendlies the team played in January won't count toward his suspension.
The ruling means that Occean would be available for selection in next month’s friendly against Japan and any other friendlies, but the earliest he could play for Canada in a competitive game would be the Gold Cup final – if Canada makes it that far.