New Zealand Football's Olympics eligibility appeal to Oceania fails

AUCKLAND, 26 OCTOBER 2015 ( STUFF NZ) ----New Zealand Football's bid to have their Pacific Games disqualification overturned has been dismissed on all points by the Oceania Football Confederation's appeals committee.

NZF confirmed the bad news on Friday, releasing the OFC decision on the appeal lodged over the Oly Whites' disqualification from the Olympics qualifying tournament held in Papua New Guinea in July.

The result is another major blow to NZF's faint hopes of getting the under-23 representative team dubbed the "Oly Whites" to the Rio Games next year.

New Zealand Football CEO Andy Martin was disappointed with the decision.

"We are very disappointed at this outcome given that we were in compliance with the rules of the competition confirmed to us in advance of the tournament, and our interpretation of the relevant Fifa articles relating to player eligibility," Martin said.

New Zealand Football would now consider its options, including a possible appeal to the sport's highest arbiters, the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland.

"The decision around the next course of action will be influenced by a number of factors including the potential grounds for further appeal and the wishes of all affected parties," Martin said.

"Our players earned the opportunity to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games and we need to carefully consider all options available to us to secure that chance for them."

New Zealand ran foul of Oceania authorities when they fielded South African-born defender Deklan Wynne at the Pacific Games in July.

They were thrown out of the tournament after winning their semifinal against Vanuatu who then successfully protested against Wynne's involvement in the match. Fiji went on to beat Vanuatu in the final to gain Oceania's place at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

The decision will have a bearing on the international career of Wynne, who has subsequently taken his game offshore, playing in the second team of MLS franchise the Vancouver White Caps. He may not be eligible to play again for New Zealand until 2018.

NZF were caught out at the Pacific Games by the fine print involving Wynne's Kiwi claims.

Article Seven of Fifa's regulations requires any player who wasn't born in the country they're trying to represent, or whose mother or father wasn't born there, to either live continuously for five years in the country, or to become a citizen before the age of 18.

Wynne moved to New Zealand in 2010 when he was 14 - so wasn't able to represent the country at junior level without dispensation, according to Article Seven.

NZF argued Wynne qualified under Article Six, which states in one of its clauses that a player may represent a country other than that of their birth if they continuously live there for two years.

The appeal also argued that the Pacific Games Council, who were running the Fifa qualifiers in PNG, had confirmed the squad's eligibility in advance of the tournament, and they were acting in good faith.

NZF had been informed of their appeal's failure by OFC on Thursday, but took a day to digest the setback before making the decision public on Friday afternoon.

The OFC, who have given limited information and reaction throughout the protracted process, released a bland, three-paragraph statement on their website.

It read: The OFC Appeals Committee has dismissed an appeal made by New Zealand Football Incorporated in regards to the OFC Disciplinary Committee decision dated 12 July 2015. After adjourning the meeting on 24 August the OFC Appeals Committee reconvened on the 21 and 22 September to consider New Zealand Football's Petition of Appeal. New Zealand Football made an oral submission in support of the Petition of Appeal and following due consideration the committee found that the appeal failed.....PACNEWS




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