20 Sep 2019

Sports: Solomons cleared to play at U17 World Cup

3:38 pm on 20 September 2019

The Solomon Islands team has been cleared to play in its first football world cup after a ruling from the Court of Arbitration for Sport in its favour.

Solomon Islands U17s in Europe.

Solomon Islands U17 team during a trip to Europe Photo: Facebook/Solomon Islands Football Federation

It will be the first time the Solomons competes at a football world cup when it takes the field in Brazil next month.

The Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) had lodged an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport regarding the eligibility of Solomon Islands footballer Chris Satu, endangering their participation at the tournament.

Satu played for the Solomon Islands during the OFC Under 16 Championship in Honiara last September.

In February, the OFC found Satu was born prior to 2002 and his participation breached championship regulations.

The country forfeited all five games Satu appeared in at the tournament, meaning the Solomons lost their World Cup qualifying berth.

However, the Solomon Islands Football Federation (SIFF) won an appeal against that disqualification which has now been backed by the Court of Arbitration.

Solomons U17 coach Stanley Waita said he was excited by the latest ruling.

Solomons coach, Stanley Waita

Solomons coach, Stanley Waita Photo: OFC / Shane Wenzlick

"It was great news for us and especially for Solomon Islands U17 team which makes history to be the first team from Solomon Islands to go to the World Cup."

Waita said his team had maintained a positive outlook throughout the legal ordeal.

"We've been through a bumpy road since we qualified and it's a big thing to handle when you are blamed for something you didn't do," he said.

The SIFF maintained that Satu had lied after being found to have two different passports and had appealed the original disqualification on the basis his Solomon Islands government-issued passport said he was under 16 at the time.

Waita said his team was ready for next month's tournament despite the early uncertainty.

"The boys felt a bit down but I told them that despite the case we must work hard and we must get ready so I think we are ready for the World Cup because we have been positive when the case is on and when the news came we were on the right track."

Waita said he was working with the SIIF to get some overseas matches before the tournament to add to their preparations.

Solomon Islands are drawn in Group F of the World Cup, alongside Italy, Paraguay and Mexico.

The tournament runs from 26 October until the final on 17 November.