FIFA To Take Control Of Australian Football, Oversee 'Working Group'
FIFA will "take control of the bitter battle for control of Australian football," with officials from the world governing body coming to Australia in the new year to "bring the civil-warring parties together," according to Tom Smithies of the Sydney DAILY TELEGRAPH. Though the "threat" of FIFA taking over the direct running of Australian football has been "put on hold for now," FIFA decided to oversee a “working group” to map out the future of the game in the country. In correspondence sent to Football Federation Association, FIFA agreed to FFA's proposal for a working group to "redefine the power structure" at the top of the game "provided that FIFA and AFC [Asian Football Confederation] are fully involved in the process." Despite relations between the A-League clubs, some of the state federations and FFA having become "increasingly acrimonious," FIFA will "still attempt to engineer a compromise" over the division of votes in FFA’s annual Congress, the body which elects FFA’s directors (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 12/6). The AAP reported FFA Chair Steven Lowy "avoided the sack." FIFA and AFC officials will return to Australia in '18 to "work with FFA and other stakeholders on the working group objectives, composition, mandate and timeline." The move is "a win for under-fire Lowy," who has "done everything in his extensive power to maintain his grip at the top of the game," one "long considered" by FIFA to be "lacking in democratic governance." In a statement, Lowy said, "FIFA's ruling gives all of us a chance to take a fresh look at how the congress can best represent the Australian football community, with the direct involvement of FIFA and AFC officials in that process" (AAP, 12/6). REUTER's Ian Ransom reported FFA has "been at loggerheads with club owners" over the makeup of its 10-member congress. The congress has representatives of the country’s nine states and territories but currently "just one delegate for all 10 clubs" in the A-League and "none representing the players." The clubs, which said that they generate 80% of the sport’s revenues in Australia, "want at least five seats" but FFA offered only four in the proposal that was defeated last week (REUTERS, 12/6).