New Zealand launch appeal against Olympics expulsion

WELLINGTON: New Zealand Football have lodged an appeal with the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) over the controversial expulsion of their team from the 2016 Rio Olympics qualifying tournament for fielding an ineligible player.

New Zealand's under-23 side were banished just hours before the final of the competition earlier this month after Vanuatu issued a protest against the eligibility of South African-born defender Deklan Wynne with the OFC Disciplinary Committee.

Vanuatu had lost 2-0 to New Zealand in the semi-finals but the committee deemed Wynne, who moved to New Zealand as a teenager, was ineligible and reversed the result.

Fiji beat Vanuatu on penalties after a 0-0 draw in the final and will represent the confederation at Rio 2016.

NZF President Deryck Shaw said on Friday the governing body had filed the appeal, the grounds for which include both the process undertaken by the OFC and the rules applied in reaching its decision.

The OFC said Wynne had breached Article 7 of the FIFA statutes, which relates to a player acquiring a new nationality and says either the player, a parent or grandparent needs to be born in the country they wish to represent.

If they are ineligible under the first three criteria, they can represent the country if they have lived there for five years continuously since the age of 18, making the 20-year-old Wynne too young to qualify.

NZF have embarked on a review of all of their national squads after the Wynne decision, with local media reporting that several players' eligibility was questionable under the clause and the OFC was subsequently investigating more complaints.

"We are working at pace to complete a review of our internal processes and eligibility information on players," NZF Chief Executive Andy Martin said.

"We are taking a conservative view, and have obtained information from FIFA about the process to apply for exemptions for the small number of players that are potentially affected and we are working with the players concerned to gather the necessary information.

"We intend to have this review and work programme complete in the next two weeks."