Michael Burgess

Michael Burgess is the football and rugby league writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Soccer: Fifa could turn back time

Andrew Durante. Photo / File
Andrew Durante. Photo / File

If the Fifa investigation goes against Andrew Durante, he won't be available for the All Whites until mid-2016.

It would be the worst case scenario but that is the gloomy reality for New Zealand Football, after the world governing body announced last week they would investigate the Phoenix defender's eligibility.

Durante has fulfilled the New Zealand government's residency criteria, has spent five years here and is a New Zealand citizen. It was hoped that would be enough to make him eligible for the All Whites but that is now up in the air.

The Herald on Sunday understands the Fifa inquiry centres on Durante's loan spell with Sydney FC in early 2011.

The Phoenix had been knocked out of the playoffs and Sydney asked for Durante for their Asian Champions League campaign. He was released by the Wellington club, who saw it as a good opportunity for their captain. Durante played five matches with the Sydney club from February to May.

If Fifa decide this period constituted leaving the country, then his eligibility clock would probably start again from the time he returned to New Zealand.

The five years would then expire in May 2016, when Durante would be 34.

Meanwhile, NZF might also be hoping Fifa don't come across the press release that accompanied Durante's selection in the Socceroos squad in February 2010, four months before the World Cup in South Africa.

"I'm rapt - very, very pleased. Every footballer wants to play for their country and to have this chance is fantastic," Durante said at the time, after being called into Pim Verbeek's squad for an Asian Cup match against Indonesia.

"When I came to Wellington people said my international chances would be dead and buried. I've never believed that, I never saw joining the Phoenix as a disadvantage and this is proof of that. I've been part of a training camp before so I know what to expect. That means I'll probably be a little more relaxed and be able to push my chances for South Africa."

While part of the squad, Durante did not take the field for the Socceroos, remaining eligible to play for the All Whites once he met the residency criterion.

- Herald on Sunday

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