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SOCCEROOS TO PLAY IN THE SOLOMONS

The crucial World Cup qualifying match between the Socceroos and the Solomon Islands will still take place in Honiara in September provided the security measures imposed by OFC are implemented.

The OFC Emergency Committee met on Saturday to consider the implications of the incident which saw certain spectators throw rocks and glass bottles onto the pitch which resulted in a crowd invasion of the pitch and the eventual abandonment of the final match of the 2005 OFC Under 20 Tournament between Solomon Islands and Australia.

The Committee expressed their grave concern that this type of incident happened and concluded that it was result of some lapses in the security measures for this tournament. It is understood that there was not the same security measures that was in place last September when the Socceroos played the Solomon Islands for the OFC Nations Cup final.

A letter by the CEO for the Football Federation of Australia, John O Neil advised that the Socceroos would still go to Solomon Islands for the World Cup qualifying match provided the appropriate security measures are put in place as last year.

As a result the Committee made the following decisions:

(a) That the Solomon Islands Football Federation will receive a written reprimand from OFC noting OFCs’ serious concern in the lapses of security for this 2005 OFC Under 20 Tournament that led to this incident.

(b) That the World Cup qualifying match between Australia and Solomon Islands scheduled for September 2005 will take place provided the following measures will be put in place by the Solomon Islands Football Federation:

1. The need to appoint a suitably qualified Safety Officer with the responsibility of establishing a Safety Committee.

2. Develop appropriate plan for dealing with the areas of `non paying spectators’ located on the hillside at the South end of the stadium.

3. Agree on appropriate ground capacity which will require appropriate ticketing measures to be introduced.

4. Suitable LOC Stewards with appropriate training in terms of deployment, identification process and evacuation requirements.

5. Ground security – with particular regards to the fencing issues to assist with crowd control in cases such as those experienced at the U20 Qualifiers.

6. The Development of and Evacuation Plan which includes the specific design of the stadium, including all emergency exits.

7. Major Incident Plan needs to be established in conjunction with Royal Solomon Islands Police (RSIP).

8. Participation in all match day security activity with the RSIP subject to approval and sign off with the Safety Officer.

(c) That OFC will request FIFA to appoint a security officer to oversee the security arrangements for the World Cup qualifying match in Honiara, Solomon Islands in September.

The final match was abandoned in the 73rd minute when Australia was leading 3-0. OFC awarded the match to Australia who will represent OFC at the 2005 OFC World Youth Championship in the Netherlands from the 15th June – 2nd July 2005.

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