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Last-ditch bid to solve soccer's governance crisis


Football Federation Australia’s last-ditch attempt to stave off FIFA intervention will occur at literally the last possible moment.

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FFA has called for an annual general meeting (AGM) on November 30, where it will try to pass governance reform intended to keep chairman Steven Lowy at the helm of the sport.

That is on the same day as the deadline set by FIFA, which is threatening to sack the current board and install a ‘normalisation committee’ to run the sport if it is not satisfied by the changes.

Disagreement over how to expand the membership of FFA’s congress, the body that elects board members, has mired Australian soccer in an ugly political war for more than a year.

The model proposed by FFA is for a 9-4-1-1-1 congress.

That would ensure the nine state federations retain their votes, with the A-League clubs given four, Professional Footballers Australia one, and one each for representatives of the ‘community’ and ‘professional’ sectors of women’s soccer.

Crucially, it would also remove the threshold of a 60 per cent majority required to elect board members, and replace it with a requirement for a simple majority – a move intended to placate the A-League clubs, who want five votes to give them veto power in a 9-5-1-1 congress.

It’s understood all state federations except Football Federation Victoria (FFV) and Football NSW (FNSW) back the model.

However, e-mails have come to light that suggest the A-League clubs will not support it.

The current congress consists of the nine state federation votes and one for the A-League clubs, and 75 per cent support is required at the AGM for changes to be made to the FFA constitution.

But there are doubts over whether FIFA will accept any modified congress model that was not also approved by the A-League clubs and the PFA, after instructing in August for all three stakeholders to come to an agreement together.

Adelaide United chairman Greg Griffin, the representative of the A-League clubs, described that as an “insurmountable issue” in an e-mail to all stakeholders.

The key question is whether FIFA will deem any expanded congress to be in compliance with their statutes, which state: “Legislative bodies must be constituted in accordance with the principles of representative democracy and taking into account the importance of gender equality in football”.

FFA had originally hoped to hold an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) last Wednesday but postponed it at the last second after learning it would not have enough votes to support what it was proposing then, a 9-4-1-1 congress with only one women’s football vote.

The EGM was to be rescheduled for November 27, but FFA was required to have given written notice by Monday for that to happen.

Instead it was locked in feverish negotiations with stakeholders to end the impasse, having been rocked by FFV’s decision to side with the A-League clubs, PFA and FNSW in opposition to the earlier model.

One of FFV or FNSW would need to reverse their stance for the new model to pass.


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