15 Jul 2015

NZ Football went by the book, says CEO

3:15 pm on 15 July 2015

New Zealand Football says it's embarrassed by New Zealand's expulsion from the Olympic qualification competition but maintains it did everything correctly around player eligibility.

New Zealand Football CEO Andy Martin.

New Zealand Football CEO Andy Martin Photo: Supplied

Following a protest from Vanuatu, New Zealand were expelled from the qualifying final on Sunday after an Oceania Football Confederation disciplinary committee ruled defender Deklan Wynne, who was born in South Africa, was ineligible.

Vanuatu had been beaten by New Zealand in the semi-finals but the OFC awarded them the victory following the protest.

Fiji went on to beat Vanuatu on penalties to advance to next year's Rio Olympics.

NZF is now launching an appeal against the Oceania Football Confederation's decision to expel the Oly Whites from the final as well as an appeal around the eligibility ruling.

NZF chief executive Andy Martin says it's been embarrassing for everyone involved at New Zealand Football.

"We expected to be sitting here now congratulating for qualifying for the Olympics, as part of Anthony's path towards Russia and unfortunately for whatever reason we've got an issue, we've got to deal with it properly, quickly and take appropriate action."

Martin says there were no red flags regarding player eligibility before the event kicked off, and for expulsion to happen so late in the tournament is disappointing.

"The fact that we can't hand on heart say that it's crystal clear is a real problem. The right thing to do is get the lawyers to look at it, test the thinking and to test the decision we took was and to stick by what they say."

Martin says the way Deklan Wynne has been treated in this situation has been unfair.

"We've got a young lad who hasn't played for another country, is a permanent national of New Zealand, has been here five years, has got a passport, is a citizen, has played in the under 20 tournament without challenge and has gone to another tournament where we knew that the process was any challenge in advance to any player, as with previous tournaments, that hasn't happened."

Martin says the appeals should be with the OFC by the end of the week.

World governing body FIFA have already said they would not intervene and the decision remained with the OFC.

Meanwhile in a statement the Oceania Football Confederation said it had hired prominent New Zealand lawyer Mai Chen to advise its disciplinary committee on the appeals process.

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