By Mark Baber
July 7 – The dispute between Football Federation Australia (FFA) and Australia’s A-League clubs over the composition of the FFA Congress needs to be resolved by November 30 or FIFA may impose a “normalisation committee” to push through changes.
The news came at the end of an FFA statement which said the 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).”
According to the FFA: “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 statement sets out FFA Australia’s view of the dispute and admits that FIFA’s Member Associations Committee has decided that the FFA’s proposed solution “does not reflect an appropriate representation of all stakeholders.”
Clearly unhappy their proposed solution – which “evolved over months of discussion with stakeholders and is supported by 80% of the Congress members” – has been rejected, the FFA remarks in that: “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.”
FFA Chairman Steven Lowy (pictured) says: “We look forward to working with FIFA and AFC representatives over the coming weeks,” and drops the bombshell 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.”
The bitterness of the dispute between the FFA and the A-League clubs was on display again this week as Adelaide chairman Greg Griffin told local media on Wednesday that his club wouldn’t be releasing their players selected in the AFC Under-23 qualifiers in Myanmar with his general manager Ante Kovacevic labelling the tournament as “mickey mouse”.
As it happened, Adelaide made a quick u-turn but the underlying feeling of the clubs is that the FFA is rather too concerned to protect and promote the interests of the whole of the game at the expense of providing them with a fair share of the broadcast, merchandising and sponsorship revenues they are primarily responsible for bringing into the FFA.
Without significant movement from one side or another, the odds of FIFA having to impose a normalisation committee to significantly expand the current congress model of nine votes for the State Federations, and 1 collectively for the A-League clubs, must be high.
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