Sport: Rival PNG football factions hold talks

1:01 pm on 26 May 2017

Football Federation PNG President John Kapi Natto says he's in discussions with the Papua New Guinea Football Association about bringing the rival sporting bodies back together.

The Hekari United owner launched the rival organisation in February after he was suspended from the PNGFA and his club disqualified from the OFC Champions League,

for making derogatory public statements about the association.

Mr Kapi Natto ran unsuccessfully against the incumbent PNGFA President David Chung at December's Elective Congress in Kimbe but argued the results from the convocation were an "injustice", following the suspension of seven member associations.

In a statement, the PNGFA and its Electoral Committee said the members had been unable to provide evidence their clubs has paid annual subscription fees and/or club competition entry fees and they believe that the Congress and the subsequent election was held in accordance with PNGFA Statutes.

"This was endorsed by FIFA and the High Court in Port Moresby following an application for an injunction by one of the suspended members where the High Court found they have no legal standing."

Hekari United players celebrate scoring a goal against Tafea FC.

Hekari United are one of 12 teams in the rebel National Premier League. Photo: Oceania Football

The breakaway Football Federation PNG launched the 12-team National Premier League in March, including four ( Hekari United, PRK Erema FC, PKA Rapatona FC and Morobe United) that were previously a part of the PNGFA affiliated National Soccer League.

The 2017 NSL began with seven teams at the start of May, after a series of delays, but was reduced to six following the withdrawal of Southern Strikers.

John Kapi Natto said football had been neglected outside of cities and towns like Lae and Port Moresby and his vision was to grow the game throughout Papua New Guinea.

"I've travelled to the Northern and the Southern (parts of the country) and I've gone to the New Guinea Island," he said.

"For the last 20 years football has never been reached up there. In 20 years I've gone in there, they're now ready to affiliate to the (Football) Federation of PNG and they're willing to start their NGI conference next year.

"In two weeks time I'll be up in the Highlands and Highlands has been neglected so I'm going out there to see what I can increase the number of football associations to be part of Football Federation and also start up the highlands conferences of the National Premier League."

PS Huawei FC celebrate the winning goal in their National Soccer League match against Madang FC.

PS Huawei FC celebrate the winning goal in their National Soccer League match against Madang FC. Photo: PNG Football Association

John Kapi Natto said his vision was to grow football throughout the entire country but, ultimatelty, said the sport in PNG must come together.

"It's not really matured but a few talks are going on," he said.

"But I said the 12 associations (in FFPNG) are a majority and they have all mandated that we should be spread out (throughout PNG) so if we need to talk.

"I have expressed that to the Minister of Sports for Papua New Guinea, to sit down on a round table so that we can find an amicable way what has gone wrong and yet we haven't come to the table yet.

"A bit of discussion is going on - I don't want to be specific - but we are finding a way forward."

John Kapi Natto said he wanted Papua New Guinea's football community to mend the current rift and was open to rejoining the PNGFA "with conditions that we can all come to an agreement...but the vision that I have started now (with FFPNG) I want to see happen."