Soccer: From PNG to Fifa's corridors of power

By Terry Maddaford

Papua New Guinea and Oceania and Fifa football representative David Chung. Photo / Supplied
Papua New Guinea and Oceania and Fifa football representative David Chung. Photo / Supplied

There is a certain irony that the representative from Fifa's lowest-ranked nation could become the power broker if he is allowed to vote in the hosting rights saga surrounding the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

Fifa is yet to confirm that David Chung will get to cast his vote as the stand-in for suspended Oceania president Reynald Temarii.

Chung has made his way to Fifa headquarters in Zurich as Papua New Guinea's representative on the Oceania Football Confederation's executive.

Should he get to vote, he will do so as a representative of a country ranked, with San Marino, Anguilla, Montserrat and American Samoa, as equal 203 of the 207 countries on the ranking list.

Malaysian-born Chung, 48, settled in Papua New Guinea in 1985 and was initially involved in rugby in the Pacific nation.

He became president of the Papua New Guinea Football Association in 2004 and became the OFC's senior vice-president in 2007. But there is still no word from the sport's hierarchy that he will get his chance to vote.

Temarii, through his Paris-based lawyer Geraldine Lesieur, said he will not be "blackmailed" into waiving his right of appeal to clear the way for Chung to take his place at the ballot box. Fifa president Sepp Blatter has intimated Temarii must back down on his intention to appeal his one-year suspension for Chung to take over as the OFC representative.

Lesieur said the demand has led her client to feel he is being asked to be a sacrificial hero for the Oceania cause.

"He gives up his rights and sacrifices himself - or he sticks by his guns and that will be held against him, that the OFC did not vote," Lesieur said. "If he is obliged to [waive his appeal], then it will be true blackmail ... it is because of Fifa's demands."

Lesieur said she believes Temarii could win an appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, thus raising the possibility the World Cup vote could one day be declared invalid.

"It's a risk," said Lesieur. "They [Fifa] are capable of asking an individual to give up all their rights because if they go through with their appeals, the vote on December 2 is void. That is the only thing that can explain this pressure."

It emerged yesterday that Oceania may still be allowed to vote without Temarii having to waive his right of appeal and there was still no firm indication if 22 or 23 executive members will line up at the ballot box.

Fred de Jong, New Zealand's representative at Oceania, became senior vice-president when Chung was elevated.

"Temarii has the right to appeal, but Oceania feel that [his right to appeal] and their right to vote are completely separate issues. Every person has the right to a appeal to clear his name."

OFC general secretary Tai Nicholas expected a decision within two days: "I have had meetings with Fifa and we are confident of being allowed to vote, not necessarily with Reynald having to make a decision."

- NZ Herald

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