New Zealand fielded an ineligible player, Deklan Wynne, in their 2-0 win against Vanuatu on Friday (July 10) ©Port Moresby 2015

Finalists New Zealand have been thrown out of the Pacific Games Olympic qualifying event here in Port Moresby after the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) Disciplinary Committee ruled a player from the under-23 squad was ineligible to compete.

Following a 2-0 semi-final win against Vanuatu on Friday (July 10), New Zealand's opponents protested the eligibility of South African-born Deklan Wynne.

At a disciplinary hearing today, the protest was upheld as New Zealand forfeited the match with a 3-0 defeat, meaning Vanuatu will now contest this evening's final against Fiji at the Sir Hubert Murray Stadium.  

"In accordance with Article 7 of the Regulations Governing the Application of the Statutes, a member of the New Zealand U-23 squad has been deemed ineligible to represent New Zealand," read an OFC statement. 

"In accordance with Article 13 of the FIFA Regulations for the Olympic football tournaments, the Committee has found that New Zealand fielded an ineligible player in the match against Vanuatu held on 10 July 2015.

"Therefore, in accordance with Article 73, paragraph 1 of the OFC Disciplinary Code, the Committee has declared that New Zealand has forfeited the match against Vanuatu with a 0-3 result, and therefore Vanuatu proceed to the final match of the OFC Olympic qualifying tournament against Fiji."

Deklan Wynne, seen here playing for New Zealand at this year's FIFA under-20 World Cup, is at the centre of the controversy
Deklan Wynne, seen here playing for New Zealand at this year's FIFA under-20 World Cup, is at the centre of the controversy ©Getty Images

Wynne has already represented New Zealand at under-20 and senior level after becoming a naturalised New Zealander.

Despite lodging an appeal over the decision reached by the OFC and pushing for the final to be delayed, New Zealand Football claim no response has been received. 

The national body also insists it was not aware of the disciplinary hearing after apparently being told the matter would be referred to FIFA.

"While we firmly believe tonight’s match should have been delayed, we will continue to do everything in our power to ensure that any final decision is only reached after a proper and fair process has been carried out," said New Zealand Football chief executive Andy Martin.

"We trust that Oceania Football Confederation will change its position and conduct that proper and fair process.”

New Zealand were not officially invited to compete in football at the Pacific Games, but opted to do so as the Olympic qualifying tournament was the only method by which they were able to reach next year's Games in Rio de Janeiro. 

The All Whites' disqualification comes after they'd topped Pool B with three wins out of three and overcome Vanuatu in the last four thanks to second-half goals from Monty Patterson and Bill Tuiloma. 

Rio 2016 will mark the first time that New Zealand don't have a men's team at the Olympics since 2004, when Australia claimed Oceania's only place.

Related stories
July 2015: Vanuatu eliminated from Pacific Games football competition despite 46-0 win against Micronesia
July 2015: Fiji beat Micronesia 38-0 in record-breaking win on busy day of Port Moresby 2015 action
July 2015: Tahiti in record-breaking form with 30-0 win on opening day of sporting action at Port Moresby 2015
July 2015: Pacific Games Council President hits back at New Zealand football team's criticism of Port Moresby 2015 Village
November 2014: Oceania Football Confederation to rule if Pacific Games will be used as Rio 2016 qualifier