We’ve written plenty about the issues around the FFA Congress over the past three years or more, and more recently the FFA Board elections.

This is the most important election we’ve had in Australian football – certainly this century, and even further back than that. 

While the ‘reforms’ of the Congress Review Working Group are not perfect, in our view, they are nonetheless a welcome improvement on what we’ve had by opening up the Congress membership to more A-League clubs, the PFA and ten Women’s Council members. The test will be how the new Congress group welcomes further broadening of its membership. If it doesn’t, we know what the next battle will be.

The Congress should be as broad as possible reflecting the many layers of the game and the full stakeholder group, particularly what I have long-termed the ‘forgotten stakeholders’ – fans and volunteers. 

In the meantime, in this imperfect system, how can we influence this election?

We get in touch with the voters, the Congress members. We tell them what we think. We tell them who we would like to see in charge of the sport for the next two, three or four years (depending on the term). And we tell them why.

The voters then have a number of options.

If they are politicians – and that’s the role state member federation presidents have taken on for themselves – they will listen to the people who play the sport, pay to go to the sport and volunteer their time at clubs around the country, and give their money. In other words, the ‘shareholders’. 

If they are protectors of the game – as the PFA likes to position itself as – then they will listen to those who play the sport below the small group of people at the professional level which they represent, and who pay to watch their professional players in action.

If they are proponents of a competitive, robust, viable domestic league competition – as the A-League clubs say they want – they will listen to the people who are ticket holders/members of their club, who buy their merchandise and who volunteer at home games to help make it happen.

Withdraw the volunteer support at the local level or the A-League level, and there is nothing. Withdraw the fans from clubs or A-League franchises, and the players are doing nothing more than playing for themselves – all very noble, but not exactly what football is about.

In other words, while the power of fans and volunteers do not lie in the ballot box as we have no vote, we do have power. And it would be, frankly, stupid for the state member federations, the PFA and the A-League clubs (and the unknown Women’s Council members) to have a tin ear to what the other 1,670,000 people who support football in Australia, and who are not on the FFA Congress, think and want.

It's now up to you to let them know. If you don't, then take heed of the final paragraph here.

What to do

Write an email, send a tweet, or make a call to your state member federation President or their CEO, the A-League club Chairmen or CEO, or the PFA Chairman and CEO and tell them who you would like to see on the FFA Board. Each Congress member can vote for four nominees. 

Here are their details, with the voters bolded.* (Note: We have used publicly available email contacts only. Most Congress members do not make their contact details public). 

ACTMark O'Neill, Presidentinfo@capitalfootball.com.au 
 Phil Brown, CEOphil.brown@capitalfootball.com.au02 62604000
NSWAnter Isaac, Presidentreception@footballnsw.com.au 
 Stuart Hodge, CEOstuarth@footballnsw.com.au02 88144400
Northern NSWBill Walker, Presidentreception@northernnswfootball.com.au 
 David Eland, CEOdeland@northernnswfootball.com.au02 49417200
NTStuart Kenny, Presidentadmin@footballnt.com.au 
 Bruce Stalder, CEOceo@footballnt.com.au08 89281006
QLDGlenn Smith, Presidentpresident@footballqueensland.com.au 
 Richard Griffithsrichardg@footballqueensland.com.au07 32082677
SASam Ciccarello, Presidentinfo@ffsa.com.au 
 Michael Carter, CEOmichael.carter@ffsa.com.au08 83403088
TASBob Gordon, Presidentpresident@footballfedtas.com.au 
 Matt Bulkeley, CEOceo@footballfedtas.com.au03 62733299
VICKimon Taliadoros, Presidentinfo@ffv.org.au 
 Peter Filopoulos, CEOpfilopoulos@ffv.org.au03 94741800
WALiam Twigger, Presidentinfo@footballwest.com.au 
 James Curtis, CEOjames.curtis@footballwest.com.au08 61810705
PFAJohn Didulica,  CEOjohn@pfa.net.au1300 650 497
 Kathryn Gill, CEOkathryn@pfa.net.au1300 650 497
Adelaide UnitedPiet van der Pol, Chairmanpiet@aufc.com.au 
 Nathan Kosmina, CEOnathan@aufc.com.au08 83403000
Brisbane RoarChris Fong, Deputy Chairmanchris.fong@bakriegroup.com 
 David Pourre, CEOdpourre@brisbaneroar.com.au1300 395020
Central Coast MarinersMike Charlesworth, Chairmaninfo@ccmariners.com.au 
 Shaun Mielekamp, CEOshaunm@ccmariners.com.au02 43537200
Melbourne CitySimon Pearce, Deputy Chairmaninfo@melbournecityfc.com.au 
 Scott Munn, CEOscott.munn@melbournecityfc.com.au1300 255432
Melbourne VictoryAnthony Di Pietro, Chairmanmvfc@mvfc.com.au 
 Trent Jacobs, CEOtjacobs@mvfc.com.au1300 466832
Perth GloryTony Sage, Chairmancorporate@perthglory.com.au 
 Tony Pignata, CEOtony.pignata@perthglory.com.au08 94926000
Sydney FCScott Barlow, Chairmaninfo@sydneyfc.com 
 Danny Townsend, CEOdannyt@sydneyfc.com02 83145100
Western Sydney WanderersPaul Lederer, Chairmanreception@wswanderersfc.com.au  
 John Tsatismas, CEOjtsatsimas@wswanderersfc.com.au02 86026400 

In case you are unsure of the candidates they are listed in this piece (though Judith Griggs has since withdrawn). 

Alternatively, you can click on this link which will take you directly to your preferred email account and an email will be sent to all of the above email addresses. Make sure you complete the email by naming your four preferred candidates, and include your own name also. 

Elephant in the room

Finally, we want to address an elephant that has entered the room over the past week: the City Football Group (CFG), Football Leaks and, in particular, Simon Pearce.

Pearce lives in Australia and has been one of the driving forces behind the changes at FFA over the past three years. The changes he and the A-League clubs have argued for, are entirely consistent with the FIFA Statutes for which the Steven Lowy-led FFA voted in 2016.

He did not propose any candidates for the FFA Board but seconded four nominations – Griggs (who withdrew on Friday), Nikou, Nogarotto and Norquay. The nominators of those four candidates were South Australia, Melbourne Victory, Northern NSW and ACT respectively. 

We’ve had calls, texts and messages pointing out Pearce’s “involvement with CFG and what it means here” arising from the Football Leaks material, particularly the four-part series published in Der Spiegel.

In short, we don’t know what it means here, or if it means anything at all. 

What we do know is this:

  • CFG broke UEFA Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules between 2011 and 2013, as did Qatar-owned Paris St Germain (PSG). Both clubs were fined and faced sanctions by UEFA at the time. Der Spiegel notes, in respect of the fines and sanctions, that the then CEO of UEFA, current FIFA President Gianni Infantino, was lenient in dealing with the FFP rules in relation to the two clubs. Many believe Infantino and the clubs should be investigated further by UEFA, and this looks likely to happen.  
  • Qatar (which owns PSG) and at least part of the UAE (which has majority share of CFG) have been supporters of Infantino, who is standing for re-election as FIFA President next year.
  • More than 70 million documents” were made available to 80 journalists eight months ago as part of the Football Leaks cache of documents. This would mean each of the 80 journalists read 3,645 documents every day of those eight months if they had been through all of them – and yet Football Leaks, so far at least, has focused on peer-to-peer emails between Pearce and his co-workers about how far they went to break the FFP system. That is not to dismiss the content or intent of those emails at all; but it is to put in perspective the relatively small number of details we are receiving from this enormous cache of documents, and what is being highlighted to us at this time, and why.

Melbourne City (owned by CFG), along with the other A-League clubs, are fierce proponents of an independent A-League entity under license to FFA, as many people have advocated for some time, including us.

This is not something Pearce thought of and has foisted upon the other A-League clubs. The suggestions for this date back to 1987 when Frank Lowy first floated the idea in the NSL, and including 2002 and 2004 when David Crawford and Andrew Kemeny recommended it in their respective reports. This is why the A-League clubs first entered this entire Congress battle.

While Melbourne City has its challenges on and off-the-park, and there is significant room for improvement particularly in its engagement with fans, CFG has also spent $15 million on first-class training facilities for their male and female players, and an Academy, described by everyone as the best in the country. As far as we’re aware, Melbourne City has not broken any A-League rules or regulations. 

*  If you come across any details that are wrong please email us at ref@footballtoday.news or tweet us @ftdotnews so we can correct them. We will be adding the Twitter accounts also.

Categories: Opinion | Analysis | News | Football Business

ffa board, ffa governance, city football group, ffa congress, #ffavotes

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