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"Bitterly disappointed": FIFA fly out of Oz leaving high farce

Soccer

The future of Australian football rests in the hands of FIFA after accusations FFA chairman Steven Lowy twice derailed political consensus over an extraordinary 24 hours.

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A joint FIFA/AFC delegation returned to Zurich last night to report back on what one A-League club chairman described as an “embarrassing” show of the domestic game’s governance.

FIFA spent two days in Sydney seeking to broker a compromise on its mandate that FFA broaden its congress to allow more stakeholders a say in how the game is run.

Given the drawn-out and toxic nature of the impasse, such a task was always going to go down to the wire.

In the end, two capitulations by wavering state federations under pressure from Lowy left furious A-League clubs calling for the chairman’s head, and believing the only way forward is if FIFA execute threats to sack the FFA board and appoint a normalisation committee to temporarily run the sport.

“We are bitterly disappointed at not having reached consensus with our fellow stakeholders,” said Adelaide United chairman Greg Griffin, who is also chairman of the Australian Professional Football Clubs Association.

“We are equally disappointed at the obstruction of the process by the FFA board.”

Incessant drama descended into farce at FFA headquarters yesterday afternoon when Lowy hauled the state federations into a private meeting lasting two hours, leaving FIFA representatives and some 15 stakeholders waiting idle as valuable negotiation time ticked away.

It’s understood Lowy, despite being deployed as a facilitator in this process, had already stymied Wednesday’s first breakthrough between the clubs, players’ union and states by calling a snap meeting with the states late on Wednesday night to reassert his influence.

Hopes for an end to the imbroglio appeared all but lost during Thursday morning’s acrimonious all-in session comprising about 40 representatives from the various parties.

Yet over a long lunch, the clubs and Professional Footballers Australia again reached resolution with the states, only for that work to come undone in the subsequent behind-closed-doors conference.

It’s believed the scuppered deal centred on an interim 15-member congress comprising nine votes for the state federations, five for the clubs and one for the players.

That temporary 9-5-1 model would remain until an independent A-League is created, at which point the clubs would cede one vote.

Previously, all state federations except the largest, Football NSW, supported FFA’s proposal for a 9-3-1 model which gives the clubs less influence and has since been rejected by FIFA as undemocratic.

The clubs have long been united with PFA in their campaign for a 9-6-2 framework.

“A wide range of options has been robustly discussed over the past 48 hours,” Lowy said in a statement.

“Everyone, including the FFA board, A-League club owners, member federations and the PFA have shown willingness to move from their original positions and this has been noted by the FIFA/AFC delegation.”

-AAP 

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