December 7 – Australian football has won a stay of execution after FIFA decided not to take over the running of the sport in the midst of an internal power struggle.
Instead FIFA has opted to mediate a final round of talks to end the bitter impasse that has plunged Football Federation Australia (FFA) into meltdown.
At its annual meeting last month, FFA fell short of enough votes for reforms demanded by FIFA, paving the way for FIFA to take over the running of the association – an embarrassing blow to a country that is taking part in next year’s World Cup.
The FFA have been at loggerheads with club owners over the makeup of its 10-member Congress. At the heart of the dispute is how much representation the clubs from the professional A-League should have in the format of the Congress. Currently that is just one vote even though the clubs say they generate 80% of the sport’s revenues in Australia.
FIFA gave the federation until the end of November to get its house in order or risk being replaced by a normalisation committee and it was assumed that FFA chairman Steven Lowe (pictured) would be forced to fall on his sword.
But FIFA has decided it will instead set up a “congress review working group” and send in a team early next year to try and bring around a resolution along with officials from the Asian Football Confederation.
“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,” Lowy said in a statement.
Australia’s warring factions had been waiting anxiously after the failure to achieve consensus on an expanded congress and Lowy had even contemplated challenging FIFA with legal action had it attempted to remove him from his position.
“In a wider sense, this process will enable all Australian stakeholders to work together on a shared vision for our game at every level,” Lowy added.
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