Fifa have launched an investigation into Andrew Durante’s participation in the All Whites’ final World Cup qualifier against the Solomon Islands but it won’t threaten New Zealand’s involvement in November’s intercontinental playoff.
If Durante is found to be ineligible for New Zealand, the All Whites will be stripped of the three points they picked up for their 2-0 win over the Solomons in Honiara in March.
By that time they had already secured passage through to November’s intercontinental playoff against the four-placed side from North and Central America for a place at next year’s World Cup in Brazil.
It’s a situation New Zealand Football will welcome. They asked the Solomon Islands to appeal Durante’s eligibility, through the Oceania confederation, to get clarity over Durante’s status because they want to know now whether he is eligible rather than have it challenged in November’s playoff.
Fifa had initially said they thought Durante was eligible and it was up to New Zealand to decide whether they want to risk it or not. NZF wanted more certainty than that given the high stakes of November’s playoff, which prompted them to ask the Solomons to challenge Durante’s eligibility.
It’s not clear from Fifa’s statement this morning whether they now believe Durante was ineligible but they have asked NZF to respond and provide appropriate documentation.
The Wellington Phoenix captain is a New Zealand citizen after five years residency in the capital but there might be issues around a period in 2011 when he spent a few months outside of the country on a temporary contract with Sydney FC. Individuals need to spend a certain number of days living in their chosen country to be eligible.
“The proceedings will help us clear up the eligibility surrounding the player and we will be working closely with Fifa to resolve the matter,” NZF chief executive Grant McKavanagh said.
Durante made his All Whites debut against the Solomon Islands and is seen to be a crucial member of the squad in the wake of Ryan Nelsen’s retirement.
The All Whites finished the Oceania qualifiers with six wins from their six games to top the group and progress to the intercontinental playoff.
-The New Zealand Herald – 22 June 2013