15 Jul 2015

Fiji confident NZ won't snatch Rio spot

3:16 pm on 15 July 2015

Fiji Football is confident it won't lose its place at the Rio Olympics and be replaced by New Zealand.

Fiji Football president Rajesh Patel.

Fiji Football president Rajesh Patel: "We are there, we are going to Rio." Photo: Photosport

Lawyers representing New Zealand Football are inspecting the FIFA law book to decide if the national body has a case to appeal its Olympic expulsion for fielding an ineligible player.

The Oceania Football Confederation is standing by the disqualification, which means the matter may ultimately end up before the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland.

Fiji went on to win the tournament and qualify for the Olympics - and Fiji Football president Rajesh Patel did not believe that would change.

"They have all the rights to go through it (the appeal process) but as far we know we are qualified... and we are there, we are going to Rio. Oceania Football knows that we have qualified and we are through," he said.

"Every country has to follow the rules and if you don't follow the rules it's very clear that FIFA will take action on it.

"If a country protests against you and it's found to be right, you will be disqualified and they [OFC] must have found the evidence and the onus is on New Zealand to show the player is eligible to play for New Zealand."

NZ Football chief executive Andy Martin (file) May 2015.

NZ Football chief executive Andy Martin said the mistake - if proven - could be costly for New Zealand Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Meanwhile, New Zealand Football is now checking the eligibility of every player representing the country at all levels.

New Zealand Football chief executive Andy Martin said the mistake - "if proven" - could be hugely costly to the organisation and could affect other players representing New Zealand.

"We've got to look at all players in New Zealand that are representing us to make sure they're clear and we'll be doing that as a matter of priority."

"We'll be looking at all of the players; the Under-17 World Cup is coming very soon, we've got to make sure that don't have any further problems stored in there if the decision goes against us."

The Oceania Football Confederation have appointed well-known New Zealand lawyer Mai Chen to advise them on the appeals process.

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