To arbitrate on Australian soccer’s governance crisis. FIFA, while hardly a bastion of integrity, has demanded Football Federation Australia reach consensus on an expanded congress by a final extended deadline of November 30. Fail, and it will install a normalisation committee. To avoid this, a joint FIFA/AFC delegation is holding talks with FFA and stakeholders in Sydney to try and end the protracted impasse crippling the faction-riddled code.
WHAT IS THE CONGRESS?
The body that elects FFA board members and approves changes to its constitution. Currently there are 10 seats – nine to the state and territory associations and one for all 10 A-League clubs, with none representing the players. The power imbalance is regarded by FIFA as one of the least democratic models of its 211 national associations.
AND A NORMALISATION COMMITTEE?
An interim board set up by FIFA to oversee the reform process until the congress issue is resolved, at which point a new board will be elected. Last year FIFA introduced normalisation committees in Argentina, Guinea and Greece. Such a situation in Australia would likely replace the FFA board and remove chairman Steven Lowy, a highly embarrassing outcome.
Revolves around money and power, and who gets how much of each. A-League clubs claim they provide 80 per cent of FFA revenue and therefore deserve a bigger say and cut. FFA is digging in, with Lowy accusing the clubs of plotting a “return to the bad old days of self-interest” that will cost the grassroots and national teams dearly. Months in, neither side will budge and the relationship has turned toxic.
The clubs, acting collectively under the Australian Professional Football Clubs Association, are set to launch legal action to force FFA to open its financial records, including those pertaining to the failed 2022 World Cup bid. They’re also pushing for an independent commission to run the A-League, much like the English Premier League. FFA has shut down talks on a new operating model until legal threats are withdrawn.
WHY IT’S SO IMPORTANT
Australian soccer is at its biggest crossroads since billionaire businessman Frank Lowy assumed control following the 2003 Crawford Report. Stakeholders have agitated for change before, but never have they been so united. FFA is under immense pressure and facing an emboldened adversary in the A-League clubs, whose cause is championed by Adelaide United chairman Greg Griffin and Melbourne City vice-chairman Simon Pearce, also a director at mega-money Manchester City. If Lowy Jr is overthrown by FIFA it will likely spell the end of the family’s long rule.
WHAT FFA WANTS
A 13-member congress offering two additional votes to the clubs (one for W-League) and one for the players via the union. This so-called 9-3-1 model has been rejected by both the clubs and FIFA.
WHAT STAKEHOLDERS WANT
A-League clubs: 9-6-2, or 9-5-2 at a minimum. This would give them a voting share of more than 25 per cent and the ability to influence votes.
Players’ union: Same as the clubs. Professional Footballers Australia is demanding two seats – one for men and one for women.
State member federations: Divided. Seven states are aligned with FFA. The largest, Football NSW, is with the clubs and PFA. Football Federation Victoria’s position is less clear, having switched sides to conditionally support the 9-3-1 model.
NPL clubs: The newly formed Association of Australian Football Clubs is campaigning for a seat at the table and a national second tier, among other things.
Source : The Canberra Times