The National- Monday, January 17, 2011
By HENRY MORABANG
PNG Football Association president David Chung has been officially elected president of the Oceania Football Confederation at its ordinary meeting in Pago Pago, American Samoa, on Saturday.
The acting OFC vice-president cruised to victory over New Zealand presidential candidates Fred de Jong and Frank van Hattum, who both withdrew their nominations.
The Malaysian-born PNG soccer chief was elected unopposed.
The election during the 21st OFC was witnessed by FIFA president Joseph Blatter and a high-level delegation from Zurich, Switerland.
Chung, who had been warming the position in an acting capacity for the past four months after the suspension of incumbent Reynald Temaari on corruption allegations, now has automatic voting rights for June’s FIFA general elections.
Blatter declared PNG’s soccer chief as FIFA vice-president for the next four years (2011-2014).
This is the first time for a PNG representative to win the OFC top post which automatically qualifies chung for the FIFA vice-presidental post.
The 2011-2014 Oceania Football Confederation executive committee : David Chung (president), Martin Alufurai (Solomon Islands Football Federation), de Jong (New Zealand Football), Lee Harmon (Cook Islands Football Association), Dr Sahu Khan (Fiji Football Association), Lambert Maltock (Vanuatu Football Federation), Toetu Petana (Football Federation Samoa) and Honourable Ve’ehala (Tonga Football Association).
The re-election of de Jong to the seven-person executive will be a huge relief to New Zealand Football, with the decision of a double stand against PNG’s Chung seen as unfair by the 10 Island nations which complete the OFC.
Insiders had expected de Jong and van Hattum’s challenge to backfire on NZF, manifesting in de Jong being voted off the OFC executive.
Whether the choice to stand down was to safeguard against that, remains to be seen.
Had de Jong been removed, NZF – the OFC’s leading federation both on and off-field – would not have had any input into the confederation’s decision-making for at least the next three years.
However, NZF will nevertheless quickly need to re-build political bridges with what was already a highly volatile political landscape between New Zealand and the Islands, now likely to have degenerated even further.