Honiara, Jubi – The Melanesian Spearhead Group has agreed to revitalizate the region’s soccer competition.
The Melanesia Football Cup, earlier known as the Melanesia Super Cup, is a regional soccer competition involving Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and New Caledonia.
The premier competition of the Melanesia Super Cup involved three teams from Vanuatu (Tafea FC and Amicale FC) and Solomon Islands (Solomon Warriors FC). This competition was held from 27 September to 4 October 2014 at Port Vila, Vanuatu. Solomon Warriors was the champion for this first competition.
“Can West Papua be involveed in Melanesia Football Cup? It can. We knew West Papua has the best football club in Indonesia and Asia. We are open if they want to participate in the Melanesia Football Cup. What is the club’s name? It’s Persipura right? They can assist us to build a better competition and improve football in Melanesia,” new MSG leader Mannaseh Sogavare said after he launched the Melanesia Football Cup program at Heritage Hotel, Honiara, Solomon Islands on 26 June 2015.
Sogavare who also the Prime Minister of Solomon Islands added because currently Indonesia has obtained a status of Associate Member representing five Indonesian provinces, including Papua and West Papua, therefore the collaboration in sport sector such as Persipura’s involvement in Melanesia Football Cup could be materialized.
“Besides the cooperation in economic development and trading, the collaboration in culture and sport is part of the partnership between MSG and Indonesia as the Associate Member,” Sogavare said.
The Indonesian Government after obtaining a status of Associate Member committed to promote the close and concrete relation with MSG in order to increase the potency and face the challenge of joint development.
“The increase of Indonesian status in MSG would also increase the concrete collaboration with the MSG members. The Indonesian trading value with the MSG countries right now reaches US$ 260 million and it could be more increased. In addition, the recent technical cooperation in many sectors such as in fisheries, handicraft making, art and culture, and diplomacy would also be continued to increase,” said the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affaires, A.M. Fachir in Honiara after the MSG leaders announced the Joint Communiqué.
Up to May 2015, A.M. Fachir continued, Indonesia has implemented the 130 technical cooperation programs in building capacity with MSG country members that participated by 583 participants. But, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs did not mentioned about the collaboration in sport.
However, the Melanesia Football Cup is still facing the challenge from FIFA that caused Fiji as the member of MSG and FIFA didn’t send their club in Melanesia Super Cup last year.
The Fiji Football Federation President Rajesh Patel said to Fijilive that FIFA policy suggested them to participate in the tournament promoting the separation of regional football. In this term, the Melanesian countries were joined in the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) so it could be considered they want to build the Melanesia Regional Football Confederation.
“If we allowed Suva FC to participate in Melanesia Super Cup, we would be charged. We are only able to participate in the tournament approved by FIFA or OFC,” said Patel. (Victor Mambor/rom)