Digicel Fiji Premier League winners and Fiji FACT champions Lautoka have pulled out of the 2023 Pacific Community Cup scheduled to be played in New Zealand next month.
Lautoka boss Shalendra Prasad confirmed to FijiLive that after having their board meeting yesterday, the association decided not to feature in the tournament in Auckland.
Prasad stated that two major reasons for opting out of the tournament are financial constraints and regular players missing out on the team due to Bula Boys’ commitment to the Pacific Games in the Solomon Islands next month as well.
He revealed that earlier they were informed that New Zealand Fiji Football Incorporated (NZFFI) and Fiji FA would cover airfares of the entire squad including three team officials.
However, just two days ago, they were informed that Fiji FA and NZFFI will cover the cost of 10 players only while the association will have to fork money out of their pocket to cover the expense for the remaining players and officials.
“We were told earlier that the airfare and accommodations will be paid by the organisers which are the NZFFI and Fiji Football.”
“On Wednesday, Fiji FA told us that district associations will have to pay for the airfare of 10 players. Fiji FA won’t pay. NZFFI will pay for 10 tickets and the remaining 10 tickets for 20 people traveling should be paid by the district association which costs $10,250 to participate plus other expenses.”
“That’s why, we had a meeting and decided not to participate because we see it as not worth the $10,000 prize money and the entry fee which is $500 plus preparation cost, players allowances and we thought that this is not worthwhile.”
“The other reason for not participating is because our second team would be going since most of our players are in the national squad for the Pacific Games and they won’t be released.”
“We feel that the investment is not guaranteed if we are to look at the outcome whether we win it or not.”
“We get the accommodation for our 20 people, that is 17 players and 3 officials. NZFFI also provides transport access. The rest we have to pay from our pocket.”
Meanwhile, Suva is most likely to replace Lautoka in the tournament which will be played from 22-26 November.