WELLINGTON (Reuters) – New Zealand soccer’s governing NZF has wasted little time in seeking to capitalise on the third-place finish of amateur club Auckland City at the Club World Cup in Morocco.
The Oceania champions, who shocked many pundits by making the semi-finals and then pushing South American champions San Lorenzo to extra time, beat Mexico’s Cruz Azul 4-2 on penalties in the third-place playoff in Marrakech on Saturday.
The victory ensured a lucrative payday for soccer in New Zealand with Auckland City entitled to half of the more than NZ$3 million ($2.32 million) in prize money they won.
The remainder will go to NZF, who will disperse it amongst the other eight teams in their top-tier amateur club competition and use it to boost their own high performance funding.
“Our recently launched high performance strategy – Beyond Football – sets in place a path to ensure we as a game are able to achieve the type of success Auckland City has produced this month on the biggest stages on a regular basis,” NZF chief executive Andy Martin said in a statement.
“The funds coming back into the game as a result of their success will be used with that end firmly in mind.”
The Auckland team’s unlikely run through the competition garnered massive interest in rugby-mad New Zealand with the games shown live on television and their progress leading sports news bulletins and the back pages of newspapers.