By Paul Nicholson
September 7 – David Chung, president of the Oceania Football Confederation and the second highest official at FIFA as senior vice president, is under increasing pressure from football stakeholders in his home country Papua New Guinea, where a breakaway group of top clubs is running its own league and development programmes already with greater numbers and participation than Chung’s FIFA-backed organisation.
Chung is accused of rigging his re-election to the Papua New Guinea FA presidency by illegally removing the votes of 12 supporters of John Kapi Natto who was standing against him. Chung is reportedly accused of using FIFA finds to incentivise support for his re-election.
Chung has denied the accusations in a statement issued by the OFC (rather than the PNGFA) saying: “The PNGFA and its Electoral Committee believe that the Congress and the subsequent election was held in accordance with PNGFA Statutes. The members who were suspended were subject to a clear and transparent process and were found not to be compliant to their member obligations in accordance with the PNGFA Statutes.
“This was endorsed by FIFA and the High Court in Port Moresby following an application for an injunction by one of the suspended members where the High Court found they have no legal standing.”
Following PNG’s farcical elections Kapi Natto established the Football Federation Papua New Guinea (FFPNG) and immediately launched a new league with the top tier clubs Chung had excluded and disenfranchised at Congress.
Chung has since aggressively, and increasingly desperately, tried to bring the breakaway federation under control as his own PNGFA sanctioned National Soccer League has collapsed without finals being played and with sponsors deserting the federation.
In striking contrast, the FFPNG completed their finals on a high note with once the glamour club of the country and former OFC champion, Hekari United, winning the inaugural grand final.
The 12 suspended associations that formed the FFPNG recently held their second quarter executive meeting following which they issued a series of demands to Chung, including that the suspensions of the 12 member associations are lifted immediately and that Congress is recalled. They also demanded that Chung recognises their new body at the country’s sports ministry.
If Chung refuses to grant their wishes they say they will continue to develop football on their own in the country where they are rapidly gaining support and recognition as the real drivers of the nation’s game.
Chung, who controls the OFC votes at FIFA in favour of president Gianni Infantino, has had significant support from Zurich in his domestic battle. But how long Infantino and his executive can continue to support and protect a president who is not supported, recognised or even in control of football in his own country, is becoming an embarrassing issue for the FIFA president who has repeatedly made much of his election pledge that he is bringing football back to FIFA.
FIFA may be the world governing body but in PNG’s case (and there are a growing number of other federations where the same question could be asked) what is it governing apart from political influence and favour?
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