New Zealand Football (NZF) chief executive Andy Martin claimed today they did nothing wrong leading up to the Olympic qualifying tournament here, but admitted the team’s disqualification for fielding an alleged ineligible player which could cost them a place at Rio 2016 is “really embarrassing”.
Following a 2-0 semi-final win against Vanuatu on Friday (July 10), New Zealand’s opponents protested the eligibility of South African-born Deklan Wynne.
The protest was upheld at a disciplinary hearing on Sunday (July 12) as Vanuatu were handed a 3-0 walkover, putting them through to the final against Fiji later in the day which they lost on penalties.
“This is really embarrassing and I feel embarrassed about it,” said Martin at a press conference in Auckland today.
“We believe we’d done what we were asked to be done.”
NZF confirmed yesterday it plans to formally lodge an appeal over the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) Disciplinary Committee’s decision to expel the team from the tournament.
The appeal, for which the timeframe is 15 days from Sunday (July 12), will be on two fronts according to Martin.
NZF intend to put forward a case that the Pacific Games Council (PGC) was running the tournament, not the OFC, and that all players were cleared to play with the PGC before the tournament.
Martin says Wynne’s eligibility for NZF is a matter of “interpretation”.
“Should this prove we have clearly made a mistake then there will be an investigation,” he added.
“We will take whatever action we need.
“This is a costly mistake if it’s proven to be a mistake.
“If someone has made a genuine mistake we’ll deal with it.”
NZF insisted it was not aware of the OFC disciplinary hearing, claiming they had been told the matter would be referred to FIFA.
Martin revealed that New Zealand’s team manager received a notice of protest in the aftermath of their last four victory against Vanuatu.
But technical issues in Papua New Guinea meant that a copy sent to NZF the following day was not received until later than it should have been.
PGC executive director Andrew Minogue admitted liability for the confusion surrounding Wynne.
“It’s my fault as I should have gone into our athletes database and deleted the New Zealand team’s entry,” Minogue told insidethegames.
“But it would be flimsy for NZ Football to rely on that information as they knew they weren’t competing in the Pacific Games tournament.”
This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, Inside the Games.