Soccer: Appeal to cost Oceania its vote

By Terry Maddaford

Deposed Oceania Football Confederation president Reynald Temarii's decision to appeal his suspension from Fifa's all-powerful executive committee has cost the confederation's 11 member nations any chance of having a say when hosting rights for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup are decided in Zurich early tomorrow.

Fred de Jong, now Oceania's senior vice-president and New Zealand Football's representative on the OFC executive, is saddened and disappointed Oceania countries have been denied that chance.

"I still say he [Temarii] has the right to appeal," said de Jong. "But he is the guy who allegedly broke the rules and this whole situation stems from that. The minute he was brought before Fifa's ethics committee it was likely we would lose our right to vote.

"Until now, OFC has tried everything possible to get a voice at the meeting.

"It is a blow for Australia," said de Jong. "As Oceania countries we felt their bid was very good. Without our vote, Australia [2022] and England [for 2018] chances are harmed."

It now seems the 2018 vote will be between England and the combined bid from Spain/Portugal while 2022 is likely to be between the United States and Qatar. That money speaks is the only inference to be taken from the Qatar bid.

It is a country of just 11,400sq km - about 1/10th the size of New Zealand's North Island. Of its 1.7 million population, 90 per cent live in the capital, Doha. Few, if any, of the proposed stadiums have been built.

For a time it appeared Fifa was warming to the idea that Temarii could be replaced at the ballot box by now-acting OFC president David Chung, but with the appeal to go ahead that door has been slammed shut.

Temarii said through his Paris-based lawyer yesterday: "On November 18 ... the Fifa ethics committee cleared me of all corruption charges but decided my suspension for one year beginning on October 20, 2010, for charges which nature and grounds I still ignore.

"Since then, I am waiting for a reasoned decision in order to exercise my right to appeal. Despite pressures and issues at stake for the OFC, I decided not to waive this fundamental right to restore my honour, dignity and integrity following the calumnious accusations I suffered from the Sunday Times."

On his November 20 return from Zurich, when the suspension and a $6500 fine were imposed, Temarii said he expected a letter from Fifa "within five days" setting out the new charge of "breaching confidentiality" and he would have 10 days after that to appeal.

It is still not clear whether he has had that letter and when he plans to appeal. Any appeal would, in the first instance, be heard by Fifa.

OFC yesterday confirmed they had heard from Temarii's legal team that he would exercise his right of appeal. OFC said they respected this decision as a fundamental human right.

"OFC will not have a voice at the voting table in Zurich [on December 2]," said Chung. "But it fully respects the decision made by Reynald Temarii and his legal team under difficult circumstances."

Voting is on a preferential basis with the last-placed country being eliminated at each stage until one country receives a majority of 12 votes.

- NZ Herald

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