New Zealand probed over ineligible player in qualifier
Reuters in Berne
New Zealand are being investigated for allegedly fielding an ineligible player in a World Cup qualifier, although they will still have won the Oceania group whatever the outcome, Fifa said on Friday.
Soccer’s world governing body said it had opened proceedings against New Zealand in connection with 2-0 win away to the Solomon Islands on March 26.
“New Zealand have been invited to provide their position to Fifa, together with any documentary evidence it might deem appropriate,” said Fifa in a statement, without naming the player involved.
New Zealand won all six of their games in the Oceania group to finish six points clear of New Caledonia, which means they will still top the group even if they were to forfeit the Solomon Islands game.
They still face a two-leg playoff against the fourth-placed team from the CONCACAF region for a place at next year’s World Cup final in Brazil.
On Sunday, Fifa said they had opened proceedings against Ethiopia, Togo and Equatorial Guinea for the same offence.
Unlike the New Zealand case, there would be significant ramifications for the respective qualifying groups if any of those three teams are found guilty.