Sport: Fiji Football confident of keeping Rio Olympic spot
Fiji Football believes it will be at next year's Olympics despite New Zealand challenging their dismissal from the Oceania qualifying event.
Fiji Football is confident of being at next year's Rio Olympics despite New Zealand's decision to
appeal their disqualification from the Oceania qualifiers.
The Oly Whites were expelled by Oceania Football for fielding an ineligible player in their semi-final win over Vanuatu in Papua New Guinea.
Fiji went on to win the tournament and qualify for the Olympics and Fijian football president Rajesh Patel told Vinnie Wylie he doesn't believe that will change.
RAJESH PATEL: The rules are there and if the rules are not followed, every country has to follow the rules and if you don't follow the rule it's very clear that FIFA will take action on it and if the country protests against you and it's found right you will be disqualified and so that's what has happened accordingly. I was not on the committee or the disciplinary committee that made the decision and they must have found the evidence and the onus was on New Zealand to prove that yes the player had the eligibility to play for New Zealand
VINNIE WYLIE: So Vanuatu obviously were aware that Deklan Wynne, the defender for New Zealand, had issues with his eligibility and they've chosen to challenge following their loss in the semi-final which was upheld; putting them through to the final against Fiji. Were you, or was Fiji, aware of any of these issues regarding the player's eligibility? Because of course he played at the under 20 world cup for New Zealand and Fiji were also from that tournament.
RP: Olympic qualification for player eligibility is different from the normal national teams when you're playing in the world cup and this is where the difference comes in and I think that's where Vanuatu must have picked it up. We were not picking it up, we were not putting too much concern into it. We would have gone and played and if we lost we lost and if we won we won, that's what we were going for.
VW: And so as it stands you are of course going to the Rio Olympics, that's a historic moment, but whilst New Zealand have a challenge which could potentially go as far as the Court of Arbitration for Sport, do you feel like you're guaranteed for Rio or is there still a part of Fiji Football that's just tempering your excitement whilst you see how this plays out?
RP: They have got all their rights to go through it, but we have, as far as we know, qualified for it legitimately and we are there; we are going to Rio. If anything this is just a stumbling block in the middle but we're not concerned about it. We have qualified. If anything happens like this then we will take it to task and Oceania Football knows that no, we have qualified and we are through.
VW: You believe that New Zealand have full rights to do what they're doing there and you don't have any issue with them if there's a potentiality that you might have to play another game if their appeal was successful.?
RP: If that happens then we will put up a strong fight too because FIFA and Oceania Football has found them ineligible. So that's their right to go wherever they want and as the parent body of our member association which is Corporation of Oceania and then FIFA, if they have made the decision then we'll abide by that decision and go through.
New Zealand Football have until the end of next week to lodge an appeal.
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