#FFAvotes - but it’s not for any of us to know
When it comes to being transparent about their vote exercised on our behalf, only one Congress member was willing to be transparent23 November 2018 | Bonita Mersiades
One of the questions raised by many after #FFAvotes on Monday was just who voted for whom.
Some commentators have criticised those on #sokkahtwitter who dared to ask the question. Their rationale is that we have a secret ballot when we vote for Members of Parliament (MPs), so why should the FFA Congress members share their vote?
But those who spruik that line miss the point.
First, the Congress is like football's 'Parliament' to use FIFA's own terminology. In this country at least, how it works is we vote for our MPs and, once elected, we know how they vote on every single vote in that Parliament as it is published in Hansard which is free for everyone to scrutinise. That is how we hold our MPs accountable.
If we continue the analogy, the Board is like the Cabinet. We do not know how individuals vote, because Cabinet solidarity is key, and Board solidarity is a requirement of the Corporations Act.
Second, the Congress members are not there because they're the only people in Australia involved in football. They represent our interests as the temporary custodians of the game.
The view that state member federations do not necessarily represent their broad base of stakeholders is what led to the establishment of AAFC in March 2017. It has also resulted in some journalists, volunteers and fans now calling for a complete overhaul of the structure of football, including of state federations.
This is the same sentiment I have been suggesting. It is the way to go. Get rid of state federations and bring in management teams working under the FFA umbrella. https://t.co/YyGQapFBdd
— Ray Gatt (@Gatty54) November 22, 2018
Football does not belong to the FFA Congress.
No doubt the A-League clubs would see themselves differently from this, because they are privately owned. However, as we noted in respect of the e-mail campaign, A-League clubs should take account of their paying members, paying attendees, and people who pay to buy their merchandise.
Third, the Congress Review Working Group (CRWG) report, which was accepted by the former FFA Congress in October, made much of the fact that we now have a new era of democracy, transparency and accountability - the catch-cry words of #NewFIFANow in respect of FIFA and football reform.
We were always sceptical of just how much that applied in this case, and referred to the CRWG report as 'reform lite'. Nonetheless, it was better than what we had. We already know when it comes to democracy that the new Congress is an expanded version of the previous FFA Congress, with two more stakeholder groups, and with no single group having veto power on most matters, but with the majority rule still in the hands of the state federations.
To recap, the votes were distributed as follows:
- A-League clubs: 28 (3.11 each)
- State member federations: 55 (6.11 each)
- PFA: 7
- Women's Council: 10
So how about transparency? We thought we would put the FFA Congress to the test.
Like many, we were intrigued by some of the voting outcomes. For example:
- How could Mark Shield be nominated and seconded by two state member federations (Tasmania and the ACT) and not receive at least 12.22% of votes, as did Daniel Moulis, who was nominated by the same two federations?
- If Morry Bailes received 25.44%, then he must have been supported by at least four state member federations in addition to the two that nominated him (South Australia and Victoria), as well as a Women's Council vote.
- The vote for Chris Nikou suggests that he received support from all A-League clubs, at least five state member federations, the PFA and three Women's Council members (presumably those on the Boards of Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC and the staff member of Melbourne City).
- Heather Reid romped it in as one of the two women candidates after Judith Grigg's withdrawal, but there was one state member federation and one A-League club that didn't support her.
We wrote to each of the A-League clubs, the state member federations and the PFA to ask them on the record:
- Who did they vote for in the first round of voting for the four Board members?
- Who did they prefer for Chairman between Chris Nikou and Joseph Carrozzi? (This was a decision of the Board once it was formed).
- How did they vote in respect of the Constitutional change related to AAFC's 'fast-tracked' membership? The amendment was denied, even though the Congress had agreed to it last month by accepting the CRWG report. Even more curious, on a show of hands, this vote was close: approximately 65-35, but when the ballot was concluded, it turned out to be 54-46. Either some people didn't know what they were voting for, or they 'turned' when the ballot was secret.
We also added an additional question for some. For example, we asked Tasmania and ACT state presidents why they didn't vote for Mark Shield, whom they had nominated.
This is what we received. We make no comment on the substance or quality of the responses but let readers judge for themselves.
PFA CEO, John Didulica, apparently took the question literally as “you” meaning him, rather than “you” the PFA of which he is CEO. He wrote:
“The person who voted on behalf of the Players' Member was Kathryn Gill, not me, as you refer to below. My one (1) vote was cast as proxy for Alex Wilkinson. Given the entire AGM was live streamed and also announced on our social media platforms, I would assume that you would have been aware of this.”
We saw the graphic put out by the PFA's Twitter account about who was voting, but we cannot find one which says who they PFA voted for.
Didulica did not respond to this question.
Women's Council Chair
We also specifically asked the PFA about the Independent Chair of the Women's Council.
Didulica confirmed that the PFA nominated two candidates for the role: Heather Reid and Kerry Harris on Heather Reid's suggestion. (It's worth noting that, while the PFA made much of announcing their nomination of Craig Foster and Heather Reid for the Board, they made no such announcement of their nominees for the Independent Chair of the Women's Council).
Didulica wrote: “As it evolved, Heather's nomination [for the Board] looked increasingly likely to succeed and she subsequently advised me that she wished to withdraw her nomination.”
This is consistent with Craig Foster's view that deals were being done in relation to the Board election, and was confirmed by Reid in messages to some supporters, indicating that she knew she had it 'won' before the annual general meeting.
Didulica also confirmed that the eventual appointee to the role of Women's Council Chair, Ros Moriarty, was approached to nominate after the FFA Nominations Committee was in session to consider the nominees. In other words, Moriarty's nomination was not received in accordance with a timeframe that had previously been proposed, but it was fast-tracked into the process (and we use that term loosely) to ensure there was a more 'palatable' nominee than other candidates.
The Chairman of Football NSW responded to say that he would put it to his Board whether they wanted to respond.
“To be honest, I think we all just want to move on, get back to spending more time leading our organisations (FNSW) and let the new FFA chair and board do the same. I’ll return to your query once I’ve received some kind of consensus from my colleagues.”
The Chairman of Perth Glory, Tony Sage, replied that he voted for the four new Board members (Joseph Carrozzi, Chris Nikou, Remo Nogarotto and Heather Reid); that he supported the Constitutional change in respect of AAFC; and he wanted Nikou to be Chairman.
Sage also told us that he felt “relief” at the outcome, that there “is no more fighting”, and that it's such a change from this time three years ago.
Sage deserves a 10/10 for his willingness to be transparent and accountable for his vote, which comes on top of pouring $130 million plus of his own money into Perth Glory since 2005.
Queensland, Northern NSW, ACT, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, Western Australia, NT, Brisbane Roar, Newcastle Jets, Central Coast Mariners, Sydney FC, Western Sydney Wanderers, Melbourne City, Melbourne Victory, Adelaide United
More than 100 hours since they were asked, no response has been received.
We thank the PFA, NSW and Perth Glory for responding.
An informed, intelligent, independent and robust media has a duty to the sport to hold it accountable, in the best interests of the game.
Accountability and 'metrics' are not just about games played, goals scored, cards issued, numbers of injuries and marketing data, but genuine democracy, transparency and accountability in the sport's governance structures, including and especially Congress members.
We wish the new Board members all the best in their important work in helping to advance football.
#ffavotes, ffa board, ffa governance