MELBOURNE (Reuters) - FIFA has declined to take over the governance of Australian football and will instead work with the country’s embattled federation to end a long-running power struggle.
Football Federation Australia failed to pass governance reforms by a FIFA deadline last week, paving the way for soccer’s world governing body to install a ‘normalisation committee’ to run the local game.
But the FFA said on Thursday that it would form a working group with FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation in a bid to break a deadlock over the reform of the federation’s Congress, which elects members to the executive board.
“FIFA’s Members Association Committee made the decision to support the establishment of the working group at its recent meeting in Zurich where FFA’s efforts to expand its representative Congress were discussed,” the FFA said in a statement.
“Officials from FIFA and the AFC will travel to Australia in the New Year to work with FFA and other stakeholders to agree terms of reference for the group including objectives, composition, mandate and timeline.”
FIFA had demanded Australia reform its Congress to make it more democratic but a proposal brought by FFA chairman Steven Lowy failed to pass at its annual general meeting last week.
“FIFA’s ruling gives all of us a chance to take a fresh look at how the Congress can best represent the Australian football community, with the direct involvement of FIFA and AFC officials in that process,” he said.
The FFA have been at loggerheads with club owners over the makeup of its 10-member Congress.
The Congress has representatives of the country’s nine states and territories but currently just one delegate for all 10 clubs in the top-flight A-League and none representing 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 in the proposal that was defeated last week.
A joint FIFA-AFC delegation came to Australia in August in an attempt to end the deadlock but left with no resolution.
Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Nick Mulvenney