The Australian Professional Football Clubs Association (APFCA) say they have been left frustrated by FFA’s response to the latest development in the game’s crippling congress saga.
FIFA’s member associations committee (MAC) met earlier this week but opted not to overthrow Steven Lowy and his board, instead choosing to implement a ‘Congress Review Working Group’ (CRWG) in conjunction with the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).
That group will be comprised of all stakeholders privy to the saga that has brought football in Australia to a standstill for the best part of a year.
But confusion emerged when a letter from FIFA deputy secretary general Zvonimir Boban made public, seeming to conflict with objectives stated by FFA in a press release distributed earlier on Thursday.
Both FFA and FIFA said they would lead the definition of the group, to begin work in the new year, including its composition, mandate and objectives.
In a statement, the APFCA said it was “surprised and disappointed” by FFA’s approach.
“The APFCA is surprised and disappointed by the FFA press statement issued today (Thursday) on this matter,” a statement read.
“Its misleading nature and disconnect from the information clearly communicated by the FIFA Deputy Secretary General in his correspondence, is indicative of the approach that the FFA board and senior management has exhibited consistently with regard to the Congress Reform matter.”
UPDATE: FIFA has issued a new press release suggesting FFA WILL be involved – in some capacity – of the working group composition.
“Based on the feedback received, FFA together with FIFA and AFC will define the terms of reference of the congress review working group, including its objective, composition, mandate and timeline,” FIFA’s statement read.
APFCA chairman Greg Griffin, who has acted as a spokesperson for the clubs during the crisis, said he welcomed FIFA’s intervention.
“While this process should have been completed in March of this year, we welcome FIFA and AFC’s promised definitive intervention in the process and their commitment to a timely resolution,” Griffin said.
“Australia deserves a first-world congress aligned with the principles of representative democracy and recognising the importance of gender equality.
“The FFA board needs to be accountable for their mishandling of this matter over the last 14 months and the way that our game has suffered as a result.
“It is now glaringly obvious to all that the gerrymander present within the FFA board must be ended and for the sake of the whole of the Australian football family a new democratic dynamic be installed so that the whole game can grow through a new era of collaboration among all stakeholders and an FFA Board without self-interest.”
Both FIFA and the AFC had already attempted to resolve the crisis in a joint mission to Sydney in August this year but no developments came of it.
The clubs have been staunchly opposed to FFA with relationships between the parties continuing to sour.
They are pushing for a 9-5-1-1 model versus the proposed 9-4-1-1 model, meaning the balance of power on the congress would tip away from the member federations.
The latter proposal was voted down by the clubs, Football Federation Victoria (FFV) and Football New South Wales at the FFA’s annual general meeting on 30 November, a FIFA-imposed deadline for a resolution.
Meanwhile, both the PFA and Association of Australian Football Clubs (AAFC) said they were pleased by FIFA’s intervention.