Touch clarifies eligibility issue

Tuesday May 14, 2019 Written by Published in Touch Rugby
Cook Islands team competing at the Touch World Cup 2019 in Malaysia. 19051318 Cook Islands team competing at the Touch World Cup 2019 in Malaysia. 19051318

The Federation of International Touch (FIT) says non-resident non-nationals must have a parent (not grandparent) born in the country they intend to represent.

 

The issue of eligibility came to fore at the Touch World Cup 2019 in Malaysia when the Cook Islands was unable to field a team in the open men’s category after four players were deem ineligible to represent the country.

The supporters of the national team were disappointed that their players were denied the opportunity to represent the Cook Islands because their parents were not born here.

In a statement, Federation of International Touch director Gary Reynolds said they have seen several comments on various posts regarding player eligibility at the World Cup.

Reynold said these comments were factually incorrect and dismiss important context.

“Regardless of whether or not individuals agree with the eligibility policy, the fact remains it has been a requirement since 2010, that non-resident non-nationals must have a parent (not grandparent) born in the country they intend to represent,” Reynolds said.

“There was nothing new in this aspect at the 2019 Touch World Cup, only a greater commitment to ensuring the policy was being adhered to. A proper player eligibility accreditation process was first rolled out at the 2018 Euros (with a focus on the open divisions), and again at the Youth World Cup last year.”

Reynolds said some of the social media comments indicated that the Cook Islands men’s open team were disqualified. He said this was incorrect.

“Only the players in that team who were ineligible were affected by the policy, the 10 eligible players were welcome to play.

“When the issue was discovered during the player accreditation process, FIT provided options to the Cook Islands administration, including redistributing players from their other teams to fill the void in men’s open.

“The Cook Islands tour management declined these options and ultimately chose to forfeit their matches on the basis of player welfare - as playing with only 10 players for 8 matches would have been extremely difficult.

“The compromise that FIT finally made was to permit the team to play the forfeited games as friendlies with 14 players (including the ineligible players), provided each opposition agreed. FIT made this decision, so that the group was not in Malaysia for a week and unable to participate at all. However, these matches are not considered test matches and the results were not recorded.”

Reynolds said all nations were advised repeatedly prior to the tournament through their regular updates to tour managers, to check the terms in the eligibility policy and ensure all players they selected were within the rules.

Arriving in Malaysia with players that were not eligible is regrettable but was entirely avoidable, he added.

“The Cook Islands administration admitted to their oversight and failure to check the policy, instead taking the word of others on face value rather than consulting FIT.

“FIT absolutely understands that eligibility is an emotive issue and one which will receive some attention in the coming year. It is also an issue with little consistency across sports, and no ‘global standard practice’ for FIT to fall back on.”

Meanwhile Reynolds said even among the Pacific nations with their smaller domestic populations, there was no consensus on whether allowing second generation expatriates would be beneficial to their development.

He said FIT would not make a knee jerk adjustment on this matter, adding it will take some time to review and consult with all their member nations.

“As the international governing body, we have a duty to consider the impact of policy changes on all members and to ensure that our international representation pathways have legitimacy, are universally enforceable, and are fair to most.

“The worst thing we could do is to prematurely make changes to ‘fix’ something and inadvertently bring about unintended negative consequences.”

Cook Islands managed a bronze and silver medal at the Touch World Cup 2019 which concluded earlier this month.

3 comments

  • Comment Link Yoba Ezekiela Wednesday, 15 May 2019 12:09 posted by Yoba Ezekiela

    FIT rules are not International because if it is then players by blood should be able to represent their grandparents ,Great grandparents country regardless if you live in another country.With their current rule I can represent my parents country when I’m born in another country but my kids won’t be able to represent their grandparents country

  • Comment Link tere jhay jubilee aka tj Tuesday, 14 May 2019 17:11 posted by tere jhay jubilee aka tj

    its seems history repeating its self again and again. there was a time when the cook islands take on the world in the sporting arena. we were not only feared but respected as well. its not like we are good at a lot of sports.we pick and choose the ones we really enjoy playing and make it our own. and for the most parts of us to be right up there with the best of the best we are more likely to find it in other countries. in which we have settled. now i don't know the answers how to bring the level of the homeland to ours overseas. but this much i do know whatever it is. it will never be good enough. why simply because its not a cook islands sport its a white mans sports therefor to learn how to play it we need to go to him to learn and play it better then him.and so just like netball touch football will be heading in the way. i remember in the 80s when the cook islands netball team was a force to beware of. in the netball world. likewise with touch years from now. we will be telling our grandchildren or great grandchildren why they cant represent the homeland and the reasons why we suck at touch football. oh the memories kia orana

  • Comment Link If thats the case, then change the eligibility status. Im sure that the aim is participation with some type of blood connections. How do assess migrants? Would you also leave them by the wayside? Tuesday, 14 May 2019 14:19 posted by If thats the case, then change the eligibility status. Im sure that the aim is participation with some type of blood connections. How do assess migrants? Would you also leave them by the wayside?

    If thats the case, then change the eligibility status. Im sure that the aim is participation with some type of blood connections. How do assess migrants? Would you also leave them by the wayside?

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