It will go down as one of New Zealand Football's darkest days.

Hours before the Oly Whites were due to take the field in their Olympic Qualifying final against Fiji today, Oceana Football Confederation (OFC) announced that New Zealand would have to forfeit the match, and their Olympic dream, due to an administrative error.

All Whites defender Deklan Wynne played in New Zealand's semi-final win over Vanuatu despite failing to meet the Fifa regulations for a player born outside of his representative country. Vanuatu had two hours to launch an appeal following their 2-0 loss, and when their complaints were upheld by OFC, the score line was reversed to a 3-0 win.

Fiji went onto beat Vanuatu in the final, winning 4-3 in a penalty shootout after the match finished 0-0.


20-year old Wynne was born in South Africa and has no Kiwi bloodline, which meant he was required by Fifa's statutes to have lived continuously in New Zealand for five years after the age of 18 to be eligible.

And despite playing twice for the All Whites and representing New Zealand at last month's Under 20 World Cup under the same Fifa regulations, somewhere, somehow, his paper work was never questioned. Until now.

"We strongly refute the ruling regarding the ineligibility of the player in question and we will be challenging this decision," said New Zealand Football CEO Andy Martin.

Martin confirmed on Sunday night that the national body have been working with their lawyers throughout the day to challenge the process followed and decision made by Oceania Football Confederation.

"The decision was reached by an OFC disciplinary committee hearing early on Sunday morning (NZ time) of which New Zealand Football was not aware after being told the matter would be referred to FIFA," a New Zealand Football statement read.

Martin said given the circumstances regarding the process around the decision, Sunday night's Olympic Qualifying final should have been postponed. Representations have been made to OFC, FIFA and the Pacific Games Council supported by NZ Olympic Committee and Sport New Zealand. At this point no response has been received from Oceania Football.

"While we firmly believe tonight's match should have been delayed, we will continue to do everything in our power to ensure that any final decision is only reached after a proper and fair process has been carried out. We trust that Oceania Football Confederation will change its position and conduct that proper and fair process," Martin said.

The mistake will have long and far reaching repercussions for New Zealand Football. Tens of thousands of dollars appear wasted in their Olympic build-up but perhaps the football ramifications will be more costly.

Olympic qualification would have guaranteed at least three top quality matches and several lead-in games against other competing nations, which would have been vital experience and contact time for the majority of the All Whites squad. Coach Anthony Hudson has long targeted the Olympics as a critical time in his master plan to shape his group ahead of their World Cup qualifiers.

But the responsibility to get this right lies at the doorstep of New Zealand Football. If their challenge is not overturned, someone must be held accountable.

Bill Tuiloma sacrificed two weeks of pre-season training with Olympique de Marseille to battle rough pitches, an overloaded schedule and relentless heat, only to have his hard work undone by an administrative gaffe. And his team-mates have all equally sacrificed their bit - winning every game without conceding a goal - only to have their Olympic dream shattered.


It's not the first time New Zealand Football have dropped the administrative ball. In 2009 All Whites goalkeeper Glen Moss was sent off in a dead-rubber World Cup qualifier against Fiji for saying "the F-bomb" to the referee, earning an excessive four-match ban from Fifa.

But NZF failed to lodge an appeal in time, claiming they never received the original fax from Fifa. When they finally got it on December 23, they were 'shutting down for Christmas' and the mess resulted in Moss sitting on the sidelines for the two qualifiers against Bahrain and the first two games of the World Cup.

The Oly Whites are expected to fly out of Port Moresby on Monday at 2.30pm.