MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australia’s football association failed to pass a vote to secure reforms demanded by FIFA at an annual general meeting on Thursday, paving the way for the global body to take over the governance of soccer in the country.
Football Federation Australia (FFA) said it had fallen short of the votes required to pass a resolution to expand its Congress, which elects members to the executive board, by a Nov. 30 deadline set by FIFA.
“FFA will now formally communicate the outcome to football’s world governing body FIFA, which had instructed Australian football’s stakeholders to agree on expansion of the Congress by today’s date,” FFA chairman Steven Lowy said in a statement.
“We will now talk to FIFA about what steps can now be taken to resolve this issue so that we have a larger, more representative Congress.”
The FFA had called the AGM three weeks ago to try to ram through its preferred model for the Congress and end a long-running deadlock with club owners.
FIFA said it would install a ‘normalisation committee’ if the FFA failed to agree to a more democratic model for its Congress.
That would effectively mean sacking the FFA board and installing its own executive to take over administration of the game.
The dispute centres on the membership of the Congress, which has representatives of the country’s nine states and territories but currently just one vote for all 10 clubs in the top-flight A-League and none for the players.
The clubs, who say they generate 80 percent of the sport’s revenues in Australia, want at least five seats but the FFA offered only four.
The FFA’s proposal was defeated by a single vote at the AGM, with seven of the 10 current Congress members voting in favour, falling short of the 75 percent approval required.
Clubs representative Greg Griffin said Lowy, the son of former FFA chairman and billionaire shopping centre tycoon Frank Lowy, had “lost the locker room”.
“The professional game voted against it, the two major states voted against it,” the Adelaide United chairman told local media.
“Once you lose the locker room in sport, it’s very difficult to get it back.
“I think it has to go to FIFA. It’s regrettable but that’s what it is.”
Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by John O'Brien/Greg Stutchbury