Lambert Maltock was elected Oceania Football Confederation President in Auckland today ©OFC

Lambert Maltock has been elected permanent President of the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) as FIFA head Gianni Infantino sent a warning to members of the continental body following a string of scandals in the region.

Maltock had served as Interim President for nearly a year following the sudden resignation of predecessor David Chung, who quit last April after a financial probe was opened into the construction of the new OFC "Home of Football" headquarters in Auckland.

The Vanautu official was given a full four-year term to continue at the helm of the OFC at the organisation's Extraordinary Congress in the New Zealand city. 

His election came in front of Infantino, who travelled to Auckland to attend the Congress.

Infantino has always enjoyed strong support from the OFC, which publicly declared its backing for his re-election last year.

The election of Maltock is expected to cement that power-base prior to the FIFA Congress in Paris in June, where Infantino is running for President unopposed.

The FIFA President warned the OFC it was on its "last opportunity" owing to the continental body's scandal-tainted past.

Chung, a former senior FIFA vice-president, was last week banned for six-and-a-half years for accepting gifts and acting under a conflict of interest.

The Congress was also overshadowed by Lee Harmon of the Cook Islands being suspended for three months by FIFA after he was found guilty of reselling tickets at last year's World Cup in Russia.

Chung had risen to the position of OFC President after his predecessor, Reynald Temarii of Tahiti, was implicated in the scandal surrounding the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bid processes.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino was in attendance at the Congress in Auckland ©OFC
FIFA President Gianni Infantino was in attendance at the Congress in Auckland ©OFC

"It's vital that OFC turns the page," Infantino said, according to Agence France-Presse

"It's vital for the survival of football in this part of the world.

"If there is still somebody in Oceania who is involved in football in any capacity, who has not realised yet that the time of abusing football for personal gain is over, then we can really not help it any more.

"But I'm sure from what I've heard, from what I've seen, that the message has definitely passed because this is really the last opportunity for Oceania."

Maltock, who retains his position as a FIFA vice-president and a member of the organisation's ruling Council, called on FIFA to grant Oceania two automatic places at the expanded 2026 World Cup.

The winners of qualification in Oceania currently have to get through an inter-confederation play-off with South America to secure a spot at the World Cup.

That is expected to change for the 2026 tournament, which will feature 48 teams instead of 32.

It had been suggested that Oceania would be given a single automatic berth but Maltock believes the region is deserving of two places.

"Today we have to turn the page," the newly-elected OFC President said. 

"Don't look back and never retreat, we have the potential and we want two teams in 2026, we need to do that so we can prove to Mr President, that we deserve two places."

The OFC also elected two new members to the FIFA Council - OFC vice-president and Fiji Football Association President Rajesh Patel and New Zealand Football vice-president Johanna Wood - during the Extraordinary Congress.