The Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) has adjourned the appeal by New Zealand Football (NZF) against their men's under-23 team’s expulsion from last month’s Olympic qualification tournament at the Pacific Games in Port Moresby.
The All Whites were thrown out of the competition in Papua New Guinea’s capital after a protest made by semi-final opponents Vanuatu over the eligibility of South African-born Deklan Wynne was upheld at a disciplinary hearing on July 12.
Vanuatu, who were handed a 3-0 walkover win despite succumbing to a 2-0 defeat in their last-four encounter, went on to play Fiji in the final later that same day, losing 4-3 on penalties at the Sir Hubert Murray Stadium.
In response to the NZF’s filing of an appeal against the decision late last month, the OFC's Appeals Committee was due to convene yesterday in Auckland.
It was adjourned by the OFC, however, after NZF said their preferred legal counsel was unavailable, with no date set for the rescheduled hearing.
"The OFC Appeals Committee met in Auckland, New Zealand on August 24, 2015 regarding New Zealand Football’s petition of appeal relating to the decision of the OFC Disciplinary Committee dated July 12 2015," read an OFC statement.
"The Appeal Committee took the decision this morning to adjourn the meeting following New Zealand Football's oral submissions that it was concerned that its preferred legal counsel could not be in attendance to present the grounds for their appeal given the August 24 and 25 dates of this hearing.
"New Zealand Football’s preferred legal counsel was not available on August 24 and 25 and the hearing will be reconvened on a date suitable to him and the panel members."
The OFC's Disciplinary Committee ruled that Wynne was ineligible to compete due to him acquiring a new nationality under Article 7 of the Regulations Governing the Application of the FIFA Statutes, but NZF argue Wynne's eligibility falls under Article 6.
Wynne has already represented New Zealand at under-20 and senior level after becoming a naturalised Kiwi.
The left-back, 20, who was not born in the country and does not have a New Zealand parent or grandparent, would have to have lived in the country for five years from the age of 18 to be eligible, but is not old enough to have done so.
If NZF lose the appeal, the only remaining option in a bid to resurrect New Zealand's Olympic campaign for Rio 2016 would be to turn to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland.
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