by Jeremy Mogi – EM TV Sport, Port Moresby
On July 12, the Oceania Football Confederation OFC Disciplinary Committee reached a decision regarding the eligibility of player, Deklan Wynne, in the match between New Zealand and Vanuatu.
That Match was played on July 10 in the OFC Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.
The decision places the New Zealand Football Federation under immense pressure to appeal, with future Olympic and World Cup Qualification processes now in the spot light, and their credibility is already in question.
The Committee comprised of members from the Cook Islands, Tonga, member; American Samoa, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.
After deliberations, the Committee decided that Wynne was ineligible to play in the OFC Olympic Qualifying Tournament as he did not meet the requisite criteria set out in the FIFA Regulations Governing the Application of the Statutes. As the player assumed a new nationality in January 2015 (New Zealand nationality), the player was required under relevant provision article 7 to have either been born in New Zealand, to have lived in New Zealand for five years after reaching the age of 18, or to have a parent or grandparent who was born in New Zealand.
The player did not meet these criteria and was found to be ineligible. If a player takes part in an official match despite being ineligible, the player’s team will be sanctioned by forfeiting the match and paying a fine.
Vanuatu’s lodged appeal, upheld, changed the complexion of the Pacific Games, OFC Olympic Qualifiers, and provided the Vanuatu team, an opportunity to meet Fiji in the final, which they subsequently lost, 4-3 during a penalty shoot-out.
The New Zealand Football Federation, now has fourteen days to appeal.
The decision has long term ramifications for New Zealand, as huge financial investmen’s has been made on this team, and while it directly affects one player, the federation could have their own set of issues to deal with, considering upcoming major tournamen’s, such as the Women’s U20 and senior Men’s World cup events.