By Andrew Warshaw and Paul Nicholson
April 6 – David Chung, president of the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) and one of FIFA’s highest ranking officials, has resigned after seven years in the job. A short statement from the OFC said Chung, FIFA’s senior vice-president and an important ally in Gianni Infantino’s 2016 presidential election victory, took the decision “after much deliberation, citing personal reasons.”
Chung’s resignation follows that of his general secretary at the OFC, Tai Nicholas, who left in February after almost two decades in the job. No reason was given for his departure though FIFA were known to be on the ground in the region following multiple reports made to the governing body of political and financial corruption within the OFC.
The lingering suspicion of financial impropriety surrounding Chung is only enhanced by attempts to examine the latest OFC accounts. No audited accounts have been made publicly available since 2015 – when Chung was re-elected. Audited accounts from 2006 to 20015 are available. Chung had a lifestyle that saw him living outside of Papua New Guinea, though his football powerbase was in the country.
Chung’s exit comes ahead of a special general meeting of the OFC Executive committee, which had been called for this Sunday in Auckland. At that meeting , according to the New Zealand Herald newspaper, the body was considering a vote of no confidence in Chung.
Chung, head of the Papua New Guinea FA and a member of FIFA’s highest-ranking committee – the Bureau of the Council compromising each confederation president plus Infantino – was elected unopposed as OFC head in 2011, after the suspension of Tahiti’s Reynald Temarri for breaching FIFA’s ethics and confidentiality rules.
Chung, as the longest serving FIFA vice president, was effectively Infantino’s number two should he be unable to fulfil his duties. That role would now fall to Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa who Infantino beat in the last FIFA presidential election in 2016.
Chung was a controversial figure both within the OFC but particularly in Papua New Guinea where he was president of the national federation. Accused of vote-rigging at the 2016 PNGFA elections – his opponents said that he had illegally excluded supporters of rival candidate John Kapi Natto.
Since then Chung had lost any significant control of football in the country to a rival federation set up by the clubs.
Club support for the breakaway Football Federation PNG (FFPNG) – which has Kapi Natto at its head -and its own breakaway club competition, the National Premier League (NPL), has grown rapidly with more than five times as many registered clubs as the official federation which had repeatedly failed to run competitions as clubs deserted it and lost confidence in its governance.
Neither the breakaway federation or its league are recognised by the OFC or FIFA, despite their widespread support at home.
Chung’s departure throws FIFA’s smallest confederation back into chaos and comes at an awkward time in terms of public exposure, with FIFA’s annual congress taking place in June just before the World Cup. That congress is already a political battleground over FIFA’s increasingly controversial World Cup 2026 hosting vote – assuming that it gets to a vote which is starting to look less likely.
FIFA’s linen still looks dirty, whether it will be aired fully in Moscow in June is unlikely, but with the OFC there are signs that a clean-up, or at least a hot wash, may be under way.
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