18 Feb 2019

Sport: Solomons football 'devastated' after losing World Cup spot

3:55 pm on 18 February 2019

The Solomon Islands Football Federation says it is "devastated" and will be asking questions of the country's government after forfeiting its place at the upcoming Under 17 Men's World Cup for fielding an overage player.

A disciplinary committee found Chris Satu breached both the Oceania Football Confederation Disciplinary Code and regulations when he turned out for Solomon Islands at the OFC Under 16 Championships in Honiara last year.

Chris Satu

Chris Satu Photo: SIFF Media

The teenager was found to have been born prior to 1 January 2002 and has been suspended for six matches.

The Solomon Islands Football Federation has been fined and the team forfeited all five matches in which Satu participated in during the tournament.

SIFF President William Lai said the player lied to them after being found to have two different passports.

"We do need an internal independent investigation to find out all aspects of what actually happened. That will be a thorough process whereby we can find out more and hopefully 100 percent what has happened," he said.

Solomon Islands Football Federation President William Lai (c).

Solomon Islands Football Federation President William Lai (c). Photo: Solomon Islands Football Federation

William Lai said the process of issuing passports is not their responsibility and SIFF will be seeking an urgent meeting with government officials to determine how the player came to be in possession of a fraudulent document.

"SIFF needs to sit down with the government - the agencies of Home Affairs and Immigration - to really talk to them and have an audience with them that this thing should never happen again because it tarnished our whole Solomons image," he said.

"Football is our number one sport and we need to let our citizens, everybody, football lovers to ensure that we abide to this moral and ethical issue."

Solomon Islands has never competed at an 11-a-side World Cup and William Lai said the team and local football community is still coming to terms with the ruling by OFC.

"We are all devastated... I mean we put a lot of effort into trying to get one of our youth teams qualifying for the World Cup," he said.

"We surely know that [qualifying the men's] senior team is very different because New Zealand will be very strong so unfortunately this is a very sad sad day for us, this kind of position [and] what happened."

Oskar Van Hattum in action in under 16 OFC

Solomon Islands beat New Zealand in the group stage before losing the rematch in the grand final. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The Solomon Islands Football Federation Executive Committee held an emergency meeting on Saturday morning, following the OFC ruling, and voted to appeal the decision, although William Lai admitted they don't expect the ruling to change.

"I think it's just right that we need to appeal - not necessarily get what we want but I think the process has to be done because more looking into the future," he said.

"If we can get something we can go [to the World Cup]. We worked so hard to go. If not we will not go but hopefully we will set processes so not only we but for everyone in Oceania to ensure everything is going to be better."

SIFF also plans to consult OFC, the Solomon Islands Government and FIFA as part of its own independent investigation into the incident but have yet to speak with Chris Satu since the ruling was handed down.

"We are very devastated and I think it's not time for us to go and see him and hopefully very soon we really need to sit down with him as part of our independent investigation to see the process of what really made him do that," Lai said.

"We need to find out everything. I demand for it - our executive demands for it. We need to do that because or word and our name has been tarnished because of the situation of his actions if really it's whatever happened. The way it is now it's definite he had two passports."

New Zealand and Solomon Islands originally qualified for the Under 17 Men's World Cup by reaching the final of the OFC Under 16 Championship.

Tahiti beat Fiji 2-1 in the third place playoff, while Papua New Guinea finished third in Group A behind Solomon Islands and New Zealand.

Oceania Football said its Executive Committee will meet to confirm which member association will fill take Solomon Islands place in Peru in October.