Plans to launch a professional men’s league in Oceania in 2025 have the support of FIFA president Gianni Infantino after they were outlined to him at a meeting in Paris.
OFC president Lambert Maltock OFC general secretary Franck Castillo updated Infantino on plans for the competition which were approved by OFC’s executive committee in November.
The new league would likely replace the OFC Champions League, of which Auckland City are the current champions.
After the meeting in Paris, Infantino said:
“I always welcome the opportunity to discuss important football development matters with OFC President and FIFA Vice-President Maltock and OFC General Secretary Castillo.
Main photo: Gianni Infantino (left) with Lambert Maltock. Photo credit: FIFA.
Infantino: ‘I pledge FIFA’s full support’
“At the moment in the Oceania region, the formation of the Oceania Professional League is a fundamental part of that mandate.
“The proposals are a win-win for the development of all forms of the game across the region, and I once again pledge FIFA’s full support to help our friends and colleagues in Oceania to make this proposal become a reality.”
“When I was elected, one of the most important projects that I wanted to do during my mandate is to create this professional league in Oceania
“This is one of the most needed platforms of the competition that we need to prepare (in order to) be competitive on the international level.”
“Countries like New Caledonia – we produce a lot of good players, and one of [these players] has been (a winner of) the (1998 FIFA) World Cup with France.
“That’s why we know (that) the potential in Oceania is huge, but it’s very (much) untapped because we had no competitions of this level in Oceania.
“This is why there is not much attention from the rest of the world (so far, because), you know, there are good players in Oceania.”
‘A chance to showcase our players’
Lambert said the potential for football talent in Oceania was huge but relatively untapped “because we had no competitions of this level in Oceania.”
“We believe that with this level of competition, there will be more of a window to showcase our potential players, and there will be chance that they can train at other professional clubs in the rest of the world.”
He said his ambition was to enable Oceania to become the sixth region to have professional football.
To achieve it, he said, would require professional management to work in parallel with the professionalism of players.
The feasibility study for the competition had taken four years to complete and approve.
The plan to launch in 2025 had 682 separate steps to make the project happen and OFC had engage a consultant to guide the project.
Maltock said he believed that the success of an OFC pro’ league would demonstrate to FIFA that the region should have two teams able to qualify for the revamped version of the OFC Club World Cup, instead of only one.
One of the purposes of his meeting with Infantino was to explore how FIFA could support the project from now until its launch.
Who would be involved
The federation has 11 full members and two associate members (who are not affiliated to FIFA).
Full members are American Samoa, Cook Islands, Fiji, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tahiti, Tonga and Vanuatu.
Associate members are Kiribati and Tuvalu.