World tournament in jeopardy

Editorial, Normal

The National, Tuesday October 6th, 2015

 THE Papua New Guinea Football Association has found itself between a rock and a hard place with the latest demand by FIFA to provide details on venues that will host next year’s Under-20 Women’s World Cup.

Soccer’s world governing body wants to see the complete architectural plans for the four venues that have been earmarked to be used next October. 

The only problem is PNGFA cannot comply with the condition because the plans for two venues are either not being made available by the party who has them or are not available because they do not exist in the form required.

FIFA has given the national soccer body until the 15th of this month to furnish it with the desired documentation and designs in order for it to make recommendations on how each venue can be upgraded to meet its standards.

Apparently the four venues – the Sir Hubert Murray Stadium, Sir Ignatius Kilage Stadium, Sir John Guise Stadium and the National Football Stadium (formerly the Lloyd Robson Oval) – do not meet the international benchmark required by FIFA to host World Cup matches.

That means PNGFA president David Chung, who is also the Oceania Football Confederation president and the man generally regarded as the one who convinced FIFA to consider this country as a host of the world event, has less than 10 days to pull the right strings in order to have those plans and any other condition thereof met by the deadline. That is a tall order when you consider the lack of cooperation he has gotten from one of the venues’ developers.

Let us not forget that this is a world event that has been backed by the national government and even acknowledged by the Prime Minister Peter O’Neill as an example of the country being seen as destination for world class sporting events.

Needless to say reputations are on the line. 

With the successful hosting of the Pacific Games in July, the country set itself a marker for future events. 

The eyes of the region were on PNG and it passed with flying colours, topping the medal tally and proving itself up to the task of hosting a large multi-sport event.

Now the eyes of the world will be on PNG and already 12 months out of the event we have a problem that could derail the hard work put in by Chung and the PNGFA. 

One must not forget that FIFA is not the Pacific Games Council. 

There will be no allowances or due consideration when it comes to deadlines.

The good news is that the plans for the Sir John Guise Stadium and the National Football Stadium have been provided to the PNGFA and the local host organising committee. 

The issue is with the Sir Ignatius Kilage Stadium and the Sir Hubert Murray Stadium. The PNGFA has been unable to obtain the plans for either of these venues but for different reasons.

The Sir Ignatius Kilage Stadium was built in 1990 for the ninth Pacific Games in 1991. 

The venue is under the management of the PNG Sports Foundation (formerly the National Sports Commission) which is still in the process of locating the complete set of plans for the venue: the stadium, track, field and adjoining indoor facility and pool.

Despite having refurbishing work done to its main stands, track, swimming pool and courts, there does not seem to be a readily available set of original plans which the PNGFA can acquire to submit to FIFA. 

The Sir Hubert Murray Stadium is a different issue but no less problematic for the PNGFA. 

Developer Curtain Brothers built the stadium in a partnership agreement with the state.

That means the company used its own resources and man power to construct the venue and it then has the right have a share in the profits and other commercial opportunities available from the use of the venue.

The state’s part in the project was to provide a certain percentage of the construction cost. 

Sources say, Curtain Brothers have balked at giving away the blue prints to their project because they have not been paid by the state to complete the job. 

This is a worrying situation and is getting all the more desperate with each passing day. 

The stakeholders in this, the state, the PNGFA and the developer must come to an agreement, in order to allow PNG to host its first world event and more importantly save face.