ZURICH (AFP) – FIFA on Friday said they had launched disciplinary proceedings against New Zealand amid claims that they fielded an ineligible player in their 2014 World Cup qualifier against the Solomon Islands in March.
However, world football's governing body said the result of the probe will not affect New Zealand's campaign to reach next year's finals in Brazil, given that they finished streets ahead of all their rivals.
FIFA did not name the player whose eligibility was in dispute at the match with the Solomon Islands on March 26, when the All Whites wrapped up their Oceania region qualifying with a 2-0 away win.
It seemed all but certain, however, that they were referring to Australian-born defender Andrew Durante.
Having only received his New Zealand citizenship just weeks earlier, Durante failed to make his All Whites debut against New Caledonia at home on March 22, pending FIFA confirmation that he met all the eligibility criteria.
He made his debut in the Solomon Islands match.
New Zealand have been asked to set out their position and provide any appropriate documentary evidence, FIFA said.
The All Whites finished top in round three of the Oceania qualifying race, a full six points clear of second-placed New Caledonia.
That guaranteed them a berth in November's home-and-away play-off against the fourth placed team from North, Central America and the Caribbean, regardless of the result of the disciplinary proceedings, FIFA underlined.
Oceania, the weakest of the six FIFA confederations, does not have an automatic slot at the 2014 World Cup.