NZ Football took an unnecessary risk on Deklan Wynne despite having qualms about his residency.
Nine times out of 10, the New Zealand Under-23 team is likely to win an Oceania Football Confederation tournament and qualify for the Olympics.
Given this superiority, it might have been assumed that nothing off-field might jeopardise participation in Rio next year.
The rewards for qualification are simply too great to take risks.
Yet somehow the Oly Whites have been dumped from the qualifying tournament in Papua New Guinea for fielding an ineligible player.
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One statute of Fifa, football's governing body, seems clear enough in the case of Deklan Wynne. To represent New Zealand, the South African-born player was required to live here continuously for five years beyond the age of 18. He has not.
New Zealand Football appears to be suggesting he may, however, have been eligible under another statute not referred to by the Oceania confederation when it ejected the team.
Its case does not sound convincing. More to the point, there was a hint that it had eligibility qualms.
Asked whether a Fifa exemption for Wynne should have been sought, chief executive Andy Martin said: "Would they have given dispensation, we don't know. The early advice from the lawyers is that if you apply for it and don't get it, you're stuffed."
That is a fairly succinct description of the position of not just Wynne but the team's Olympic prospects now.
Appeals to the Oceania confederation and the Court of Arbitration for Sport will be made more in hope than expectation.
It should never have come to this.