FIFA asked to sanction NZ over friendly match
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Mexican club Queretaro says it will ask FIFA to punish New Zealand for withdrawing its national team without consultation from a football friendly in Mexico City on Saturday.
In a statement on Thursday, Queretaro said “the New Zealand federation withdrew unilaterally from the commitment after formally confirming they were taking part.”
It said the club’s board would “take the necessary measures to make known our dissatisfaction before the pertinent judicial bodies and ask for a sports sanction through the International Football Federation (FIFA).”
New Zealand Football announced on Tuesday it had chosen to forgo the match against Queretaro in favor of a game against Major League Soccer club Chivas USA in Los Angeles on Saturday.
New Zealand Football’s acting chief executive Mark Aspden said he doubted Queretaro would get far with FIFA, as there was no written contract to play the game, and said the agent who arranged the game may have given the Mexican club the wrong impression of how likely the game was to proceed.
“We actually spoke with Queretaro yesterday and they understand it is the agent, not us,” Aspden said. “I’d certainly be very surprised if there were any sanctions involved. FIFA deals with national bodies and we didn’t have a contract to play anyway.”
The confusion over the game continued New Zealand’s botched buildup to an inter-continental World Cup qualifying match against a qualifier from the CONCACAF Federation in November.
The New Zealand team left for Los Angeles on Tuesday with its warm-up program still undecided. Football New Zealand intended the team to play in a six-team competition in Los Angeles but promoters canceled the tournament at a late stage.
The cancellation left New Zealand with only two confirmed matches in its buildup to the World Cup qualifier, against Chivas and against world No. 85 Trinidad and Tobago in Port of Spain on Oct. 16.
Football New Zealand has sought other games, including a training match against Premier League development side Ventura County Fusion.
As qualifier from the Oceania Confederation, New Zealand is due to play the fourth-placed team from the CONCACAF Confederation in home and away matches in November. On current standings, New Zealand is likely to face Mexico in a two-leg contest for a place in the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil.
The New Zealand federation’s high performance manager Fred de Jong told reporters earlier this week the World Cup buildup was “not ideal.”
“But sometimes things happen that are beyond your control and you have to react. Our focus has always been to put on the best camp and best preparation that we can.”