New Zealand to run eligibility checks after Olympics expulsion
WELLINGTON – New Zealand Football (NZF) will run thorough eligibility checks on all their squads following their controversial expulsion from the 2016 Rio Olympics qualifying tournament.
New Zealand’s under-23 side were expelled just hours before the final of the OceaniaFootball Confederation’s tournament earlier this month for fielding an ineligible player.
Vanuatu, after losing 2-0 to New Zealand in the semi-finals, lodged a protest against the eligibility of South African-born defender Deklan Wynne with the OFC Disciplinary Committee.
The committee deemed Wynne, who moved to New Zealand as a child, was ineligible and awarded the game to Vanuatu, who went on to lose to Fiji in the final.
After the OFC released its reasoning behind the decision on Monday, NZF chief executive Andy Martin said in a statement the matter was far from closed.
“We will be reviewing the reasons over the next few days and seeking advice as to the most appropriate next steps,” he said.
“However, we remain disappointed at the sequence of events that has led to our team being disqualified.
“In the meantime we are supporting the team and working through a wider review of the eligibility information of all players to ensure a situation like this does not occur again.”
The OFC said on Monday that Wynne, who has represented New Zealand at senior level and at the under-20 World Cup on home soil this year, was ineligible under Article 7 of FIFA’s Regulations Governing the Application of the Statutes.
The article relates to a player acquiring a new nationality and says either the player, a parent or grandparent needs to be born in the country they wish to represent.
If they are ineligible under the first three criteria, they can represent the country if they have lived there for five years continuously since the age of 18, making the 20-year-old Wynne too young to qualify under that clause.
“In this case the player did not have New Zealand nationality, having been born in South Africa,” the judgement read. “Rather the player assumed a ‘new nationality’ in January 2015 when he was granted New Zealand citizenship.
“Accordingly, in order to be eligible for New Zealand representative team the player had to fulfil one of the alternative conditions stipulated.”
The OFC decision also included documentation that showed Vanuatu had appealed the eligibility of England-born midfielder Sam Burfoot.
That part of the appeal was dismissed by the OFC as Burfoot had not played in the semi-final. – Reuters