15 Jul 2015

FIFA refusing to intervene in NZF eligibility issue

2:58 pm on 15 July 2015

Football's world governing body FIFA says its disciplinary committee will not intervene in the controversy which led to New Zealand being kicked out of the Olympic qualifiers for fielding an ineligible player.

All Whites coach Anthony Hudson

All Whites coach Anthony Hudson Photo: Photosport

New Zealand's under-23 side were expelled from the Oceania zone qualifying tournament just hours before Sunday's final against Fiji, who went on to beat Vanuatu to advance as the region's representative at next year's Rio Games.

After losing 2-0 to New Zealand in the semi-finals, Vanuatu lodged a protest against the eligibility of South African-born defender Deklan Wynne with the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) disciplinary committee.

The committee deemed Wynne, who moved to New Zealand as a child with his family, was ineligible and awarded the game to Vanuatu.

New Zealand said they had been led to believe that world governing body FIFA would be making a ruling on the outcome of Vanuatu's appeal.

FIFA's Olympic regulations state that "protests regarding the eligibility of players shall be decided by the FIFA disciplinary committee in accordance with the FIFA disciplinary code."

However, FIFA says that the rules also state that where an existing tournament, in this case the Pacific Games, doubles as the Olympic qualifying competition, the respective continental federation would be responsible for all organisation.

"The Pacific Games are a competition exclusively organised by the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC)," FIFA said in an emailed statement.

"Therefore OFC is responsible for enforcing sanctions imposed against infringements committed in their area of jurisdiction in conformity with... the FIFA Disciplinary Code."

"Any possible appeal lodged by the New Zealand Football Association will have to be in line with the respective OFC regulations. Therefore, the FIFA Disciplinary Committee will not intervene."

Meanwhile New Zealand Football says the Pacific Games Council confirmed the eligibility of their squad before the tournament, and they're challenging a decision which resulted in the national under-23 men's team missing out on an Olympic berth.

NZ Football CEO Andy Martin confirmed on Monday the national body will be lodging a formal appeal with Oceania Football regarding Wynne's eligibility.

Having taken advice from Oceania Football Confederation on the rules for the competition and having received confirmation of eligibility of the squad from the Pacific Games Council in advance of the tournament, Martin said New Zealand Football will take up their right of appeal on the decision reached on Sunday.

"New Zealand Football has acted in good faith at all times and we would have expected any issues on player eligibility to have been raised in advance, through the process we were given, so that they could have been dealt with properly in a timely fashion," Martin said.

"Our lawyers are working on the appeal currently and are reviewing both the process followed and the OFC Disciplinary Committee's interpretation of the Regulations Governing the Application of the Statutes and how this has been applied in similar cases."

New Zealand Football will comment further at a press conference to be held on later today.

The former All White Sam Malcolmson says the criteria seems straightforward, and it appears it's New Zealand Football's mistake.

"Was the player born in the country New Zealand - obviously not, was his mother and dad born in New Zealand - obviously not, was any of the grandparents born in New Zealand - obviously not, so then it's five years from the age of 18 to become eligible to play for your country, and Deklan obviously doesn't meet any of those rules."