Perhaps unexpectedly, FIFA’s member associations committee (MAC) has opted not to sack the FFA board and implement a normalisation committee in Australia.
That course of action seemed inevitable after the game’s stakeholders failed to agree on a new congress model as the world governing body’s 30 November deadline ticked past.
Instead, FIFA has agreed to bring in a “Congress Review Working Group” (CRWG) which will start work next year and will include all relevant stakeholders in Australia.
That is on the basis FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) are “fully involved” in overseeing the implementation of a new, more inclusive model.
But some confusion has arisen following the release of both an FFA media release and a FIFA letter, addressed from deputy secretary general Zvonimir Boban to chairman Steven Lowy.
The letter, which FIFA asked to be released to stakeholders, reveals FIFA were surprised FFA’s 9-4-1-1 proposal was voted down by the current 10 stakeholders at 70% approval, namely the A-League clubs, Football Federation Victoria and Football New South Wales.
FFA’s media release suggests it will create the CRWG, while the FIFA letter states a joint mission between itself and the AFC in the new year will outline the objectives, composition and mandate of the group.
So just who is in charge? Daily Telegraph newsman Tom Smithies answered that very question on Thursday’s Daily Football Show.
“FIFA’s now in control of this process, not FFA and that is a major change,” Smithies said.
This is interesting. FIFA correspondence reads v differently to FFA media release. No doubt FIFA now in control of this process. FIFA will “define terms of ref of Congress working group, which include its objective, composition, mandate and timeline”. Not FFA…
— Tom Smithies (@SmithiesTele) December 7, 2017
“It’s FIFA saying ‘after two years of you lot procrastinating, fighting, arguing’… it’s really like parents saying ‘right, we’re going to let you choose what you want to have for dinner, but you couldn’t and you’ve had a big fight about the choice of ice cream, so we’re in charge now’.”
Where do the A-League clubs sit in all this? They have been staunchly opposed to FFA’s reforms from the very beginning.
Themselves as well as the PFA have been notable supporters driving a 9-5-1-1 proposal, which would swing the balance of power in favour of the clubs and away from the member federations.
The new CRWG will involve the A-League clubs, represented by the Australian Professional Football Clubs Association (APFCA) and often outspoken Adelaide United chairman Greg Griffin.
While Smithies explained the A-League clubs would be pleased by FIFA intervention, he stressed they would have to abide by FIFA’s rules.
“They have to be very careful because they have to play by FIFA’s rules in this, they can’t come out and smash this process,” he said.
“They can’t say ‘we disagree with it’ because this isn’t FFA saying this, this is FIFA saying we’re going to have this process.
“So the clubs have got to stand in line and cut their forelocks and do the right thing and go through this process.
“They are I think welcoming the fact that FIFA have taken it over.
“They’ve had a little crack at FFA … saying they’re disappoint the press release was spun in a certain way, and that underlined the antipathy between the clubs and the FFA board.
“We can’t underline enough how much dislike there is between the two sides.”