Sport: Fiji Football pressing forward following Olympic appeal
Fiji Football believes its spot at the Rio Olympics is safe after Oceania Football dismissed an appeal by New Zealand.
Fiji Football is stepping up preparations for Rio after New Zealand failed in its bid to overturn its disqualification from Olympic qualifying.
However New Zealand Football remains unhappy and says it's still pondering a final appeal.
Vinnie Wylie reports.
The Oceania Football Confederation upheld the ruling that the New Zealand under-23 men's team's fielded an ineligible player during the regional qualifying tournament in Papua New Guinea in July.
The Oly Whites were disqualified after defeated semi-finalists Vanuatu successfully challenged the eligibility of South African-born defender Deklan Wynne.
New Zealand Football President Deryck Shaw says there may be a conspiracy among Oceania to ruin their hopes of playing at the Olympics.
He says they applied the rules for eligibility as advised and confirmed to them in writing by the Pacific Games organisers, prior to the event.
However the Olympic qualifiers were run by Oceania Football and not the Pacific Games, rendering that pre-event confirmation irrelevent.
Deryck Shaw says they approached the qualifying tournament no differently from a large number of others they've played in since FIFA's statutes around eligibility were changed seven years ago.
DERYCK SHAW:"We were therefore hugely disappointed at the action taken against us, in what we believe was premeditated and procedurally unfair. There could have only been one objective from the action taken and that was to deny the New Zealand Football Men's Under 23 team a place in the 2016 Rio Olympics".
Fiji went on to win the tournament and book their place in Brazil next year.
Fiji Football President Rajesh Patel was always confident the appeal would rule in their favour but says it's nice to have confirmation.
RAJESH PATEL:"That was something that weight over our shoulders had that now we can get into full swing preparing for the Rio Olympics. We have already a request from Qatar to play November 17th and we have also lined up matches with teams in Spain so this is something that we will now go ahead with it. The appeal was something we were waiting on what was going to happen. Finally we have known that the appeal has been dismissed and we will move on from here and prepare for Rio Olympics".
New Zealand Football have until November the 13th to lodge an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland.
CEO Andy Martin says his organisation remains unhappy with the process that has taken place and will assess their options over the coming weeks.
ANDY MARTIN:"Our priority is to get the players the chance to qualify for the Olympics and that should be done on the field, not off the field. We feel it's been taken out of their hands and we're not comfortable with the process that's been gone through, we're not comfortable with the decision. Everyone's getting fatigued by the whole process but similarly and from an emotional point of view there's young men who want to play in the Olympics so we can't just let that go without a fight".
Andy Martin admits financial considerations will be a factor in whether they go ahead with their appeal.
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