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Since Sunday a week ago, we have pointed out the issues associated with the publication of information, the obligations of various parties under the Privacy Act, urged fans to achieve positive change out of the situation and been critical of the lack of leadership shown within FFA.

But is attacking one person, Damien de Bohun the solution? 

Regulatory decision-making has long been a sore point within FFA.

In an interview with Joe Gorman a few years ago, I shared a story of my first day at FFA as head of corporate and public affairs. Have a read of it here. In 2008, Melbourne Victory fans displayed a Eureka flag that was confiscated by Hatamoto: on that occasion, I convinced the CEO that there was nothing wrong with a Eureka flag, I had a rare victory and it was reinstated.

In 2009, a player was charged with an alleged sexual assault on a minor. At the behest of lawyers, the decision taken was the risk-averse one – a presumption of guilt, rather than a presumption of innocence. The player missed out on almost certain selection for the U-20 World Cup in Egypt later that year. The charges against him were dropped as they went to court.

The point in recounting these incidences (and there are many more!) is that Damien de Bohun will not be acting alone in the decisions he has taken.

It will not be his decision about whether to front the media. To the extent that he has said something publicly, it will be worked-over by a bevy of in-house, and maybe external, lawyers beforehand. Once lawyers are involved, whatever is said runs the risk of being so opaque that no-one understands it, or so lacking in gumption and, as we’ve seen in this case, consistency, that it is better left unsaid.  

It would have been preferable to make a proverbial ‘call to arms’ of the football tribe in the past week. Lowy, Gallop and Dodd have been enjoying Bollywood-style celebrations in India for the best part of a week at the annual AFC Awards (as well as, apparently, giving their blessing to Sheikh Salman as next President of FIFA). However, in their absence, De Bohun – even if he felt inclined, and Lucy Zelic may be right in suggesting he wouldn’t – probably would not have had the authority to do so. 

​Putting aside the World Cup bid, most of the issues fans have had with FFA over the past eleven years have been associated with the regulatory framework. Not necessarily the decision itself but how its applied, the lack of transparency around the ‘rules’ and the inconsistency of its application.  

This recent instance is the worst, as it involves prima facie a breach of the law, and it has reportedly impacted the livelihood of people. 

FFA needs cultural change. It needs renewal. It needs a regulatory framework that is transparent, and it needs that applied and communicated in a manner that recognises players and fans as the two most important stakeholders in the game. 


Categories: Opinion | Football Business

a-league, steven lowy, david gallop, moya dodd, ffa

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