WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Vanuatu’s Lambert Maltock has been elected as the new president of the Oceania Football Confederation after serving in the role for almost a year in an acting capacity following the resignation of David Chung.
Maltock had initially replaced Chung last April after the Papua New Guinea FA president resigned for “personal reasons”, having led the OFC for seven years.
Last week, Chung was fined and banned by world governing body FIFA for six and half years for offering gifts as well as holding conflicts of interest.
Maltock acknowledged the OFC had been under pressure over the last year and hoped that with his election the 11-nation grouping of mostly Pacific island countries had turned a corner.
“It has not been easy. Oceania, where I am from, has suffered enough,” Maltock said in an OFC statement after his election at the OFC Extraordinary Congress in Auckland on Saturday.
“Today we have to turn the page. Don’t look back and never retreat.”
Maltock, who added that he would serve just a single four-year term, also called on FIFA President Gianni Infantino to give Oceania automatic places at the World Cup finals when the tournament is expanded to 48 teams in 2026.
The champions of Oceania currently have to play in an inter-confederation playoff to reach the World Cup.
“We have the potential and we want two teams in 2026,” Maltock said.
New Zealand, currently the strongest side in the region, have qualified twice for the World Cup finals, in 1982 and 2010. Australia also qualified twice — in 1974 and 2006 — before they shifted to the Asian Confederation.
Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Peter Rutherford