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You know something’s crook when FIFA and AFC are going to work with you to establish a ‘proper’ Congress. It’s not as if these two organisations are paragons of good governance. So what exactly is their motivation?

The ‘offer’ of assistance from FIFA came about after a meeting of FIFA’s Member Associations Committee who determined that they did not like FFA’s proposed model for a new-look Congress. 

FFA’s Congress model is 9-3-1, that is: one vote each to the nine federations, three for A-League clubs and one for the PFA.

That was accepted by eight of the existing ten members of the FFA Congress (nine federations and one A-League representative) – NSW and the A-League did not agree. The A-League clubs’ association proposed a model of up to 9-5-2, with suggestions that they might settle for 9-4-1. 

FIFA wrote to FFA on Wednesday to let them know that they do not agree with the 9-3-1 model. But FIFA upped the ante even more by stating that a ‘normalisation committee’ would be introduced if the FFA Congress isn’t sorted to their satisfaction by the end of November. According to the FIFA Statutes, a ‘normalisation committee’ is brought in for a specific period of time where the FIFA Council believes it is necessary to replace the executive body of a member association. 

Muddying the waters further is the newly-minted AAFC which is also looking for a seat at the FFA Congress on the basis that they represent 30,000 plus semi-professional players and 100 semi-professional clubs, without a recognised structural role anywhere. 

While one state federation automatically gives NPL clubs representation on their state board, the majority do not. AAFC argue, therefore, that they have no representation either at state or national level. It is understood that AAFC has kept FIFA and the AFC well-informed of their progress since establishment in March, and both organisations are sympathetic to AAFC’s claim for representation also. AAFC has not revealed its preferred model. 

FFA’s chairman, Steven Lowy, said in a statement today that FFA welcomes expansion of the FFA Congress as long as it “also protects and promotes the interests of the whole of the game”. 

While these words may have once sounded inclusive and aspirational – and accepted as gospel by many stakeholders – they are now seen by many Australian football stakeholders as hollow. That is exacerbated since the publication of the Garcia Report that confirmed the ‘problematic’ conduct of the previous administration that I identified many years ago in relation to the failed World Cup bid. 

FFA now face the once unthinkable: the FIFA equivalent of bringing in the receivers if the situation is not resolved to FIFA’s satisfaction by the end of November. 

Whoever thought it would come to this?

FFA issued some spin to put the best face possible on this late on Thursday evening which is published in full below. (Is that a dog whistle in paragraph 9?)

STARTS

Football Federation Australia (FFA) will welcome a FIFA/AFC mission to Australia later this month in an effort to end an impasse over expansion of the sport’s membership (Congress).

All stakeholders in Australian football, including the FFA, agree with FIFA and the AFC that FFA’s Congress should be expanded to include more members.  However the 10 current Congress members, who are the only stakeholders entitled to a vote to change its membership, are divided over the make-up of a new Congress.

The FIFA/AFC offer to send a mission follows a decision by FIFA’s Member Associations Committee that a two-stage expansion process proposed by FFA “does not reflect an appropriate representation of all stakeholders”.   

The FFA proposal, which evolved over months of discussion with stakeholders and is supported by 80 percent of the Congress members, would have immediately tripled the representation of Hyundai A-League clubs and included a representative of Professional Footballer’s Australia (PFA) for the first time.  

The second stage, following a formal consultation process, envisaged further expansion based on the agreement of stakeholders. This second phase expansion would have contemplated further special interest groups as well as any rebalancing of A-League and Member Federation votes. 

The second stage was also proposed to have commenced after agreement of a new operating model for the A-League, and would have taken this into account in the further expansion and rebalancing of the Congress. This second-phase would have been overseen by an FFA task force including representatives of Member Federations, A-League Clubs and PFA. This proposal was not supported by the Hyundai A-League clubs, Football NSW or PFA.

FFA’s current Congress comprises one representative from each of the nine member federations who represent the game in their region and a Hyundai A-League representative who is nominated by a majority of the 10 Hyundai A-League clubs.  The Congress has the power to elect the FFA’s independent Board and amend FFA’s constitution.  

Under the constitution, in order to expand, 75 percent of voting members must agree to a resolution for it to be passed.  The FFA proposal rejected by the FIFA Member Associations Committee was supported by 80 percent of the voting members and therefore would have been successfully adopted at an Extraordinary General Meeting of the Congress.

The FIFA Member Associations Committee is made up of 14 members from Argentina, Aruba, Bahamas, France, Iceland, Madagascar, New Caledonia, North Korea, Oman, Samoa, Sierra Leone, Switzerland, Turkey, Turks and Caicos Islands.

“We look forward to working with FIFA and AFC representatives over the coming weeks,” said FFA Chairman Steven Lowy AM.  “As I said in March, FFA wants to see an expanded Congress for Australia that reflects the way the game is evolving in this country but also protects and promotes the interests of the whole of the game.

“Our Congress members have differing views on how that should happen so we will continue to work with all parties to find a solution by the end of November.”

Mr Lowy said that the Members Association Committee had advised that it would recommend the establishment of a so-called “normalisation committee” to intervene directly if an acceptable expansion of the Congress was not in place by November 30 this year.

ENDS


Categories: News | Football Business

australian football, governance, ffa, fifa

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