National champions Eastern Suburbs have withdrawn from the inaugural OFC Women’s Champions League due to start on June 1, citing concerns about costs, timing and security.
Suburbs, who qualified for the inaugural OFC competition by winning the 2022 Women’s National League, have told Oceania Football Confederation they are unwilling to travel to Papua New Guinea for the nine-day tournament.
Main photo: Eastern Suburbs celebrate winning the Women’s National League grand final in December.
Photo: Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.
Suburbs chair Simon Hilton: ‘It’s been rushed’
Club chair Simon Hilton told Friends of Football:
“OFC first announced this tournament in January for a March tournament. ESAFC reviewed the costs involved, the location of the tournament and the timing and decided we were not in a position to attend with concerns over costs, timing and security.
“Subsequently, OFC moved the tournament to June.
“We were advised at the start of May, the details around the tournament in June, which included additional funding support with no further information around the security plans.
“When pressed on these, we were advised they are being worked on and would be completed by end of May and assured they would be fine.
“In consultation with the ESAFC Executive and the players, we decided against participating and withdrawing from the tournament for security concerns along with a significant amount of money still required at a short timeline.
“ESAFC supports the introduction of this new tournament for the female game but believe it has been rushed and needs to be communicated to teams before they enter competitions allowing clubs time to prepare and plan.”
Tournament expected to be redrawn
OFC have not made a public statement yet but are expected to redraw the tournament’s fixture schedule, with the five teams playing a round-robin.
Suburbs had been drawn in a group with Hekari United (PNG) and Koloale (Solomon Islands), while the other group was to include Labasa (Fiji), AS Academy Feminine (New Caledonia) and Kiwi (Samoa).
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