ZURICH (Reuters) - FIFA’s 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, soccer’s governing body said on Monday.
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 2-0.
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 told Reuters 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 organization.
“The Pacific Games are a competition exclusively organized 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.”
Editing by Ed Osmond