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Oceania Soccer President Rejects Calls to Disband - 2003-06-30

Oceania Soccer Federation president Basil Scarsella disputed calls to disband the 11-team confederation Monday, after football's world governing body FIFA reversed a decision to grant the region an automatic berth to the World Cup.

Scarsella was reacting to calls by Australian national coach Frank Farina to disband Oceania and allow the teams to merge with the Asian Football Confederation. Soccer New Zealand chief executive Bill MacGowan agreed with Farina, saying the Oceania confederation was pointless without a direct World Cup entry.

But Scarsella, who stormed out of the meeting in Paris Friday when FIFA announced the reversal, has urged officials to remain calm and avoid making rash decisions. He is adamant that a decision to break up Oceania would be a detriment to the game.

FIFA's decision has generated much anger in Oceania's two most powerful countries, Australia and New Zealand, who believe the decision was politically driven to satisfy the influential South American lobby. Australian newspapers have labelled FIFA president Sepp Blatter a "double-crosser" and have urged the 11 South Pacific states to actively campaign against his re-election.