It’s Sam Kerr’s world, we’re all just living in it.
Deadline day has arrived for the panel tasked with resolving Football Federation Australia’s long-running governance crisis.
The eight-member congress review working group assembled by FIFA earlier this year has until the end of Tuesday to send the world’s governing body its proposal for how FFA’s congress should look – and a roadmap for the future of the A-League.
It should mark the beginning of the end of the civil war that has hamstrung the sport in Australia over the last two years.
AAP understands the working group has reached an agreement over the contents of the report it will submit to FIFA and will conduct a final vote on Tuesday – however, FFA is believed to be making last-ditch attempts to derail the process.
The working group consists of eight members – A-League club representatives Greg Griffin and Simon Pearce, Professional Footballers Association chief executive John Didulica, the heads of the state federations in NSW, Victoria, Western Australia and South Australia, and an FFA board member.
The group is chaired by former Australian Grand Prix CEO Judith Griggs.
FIFA has long been pressuring FFA to fall in line with its statutes, which say member associations must be constituted in accordance with the principles of representative democracy and recognise gender equality.
FIFA believes the current FFA membership – one of the smallest congresses in world football, and a relic of the government-assisted transition that saw Frank Lowy take charge of Soccer Australia in 2003 – falls well short of these demands.
Delegates from FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation have twice visited Sydney to try to foster the necessary change but failed on both occasions amid growing tensions between FFA chairman Steven Lowy and his board, and the owners of the 10 A-League clubs.
FIFA chose to establish the congress working group to force a diplomatic solution after giving Lowy a stay of execution in November last year by not sacking his board and replacing it with a ‘normalisation committee’ to run Australian football, as it had threatened.
It’s expected the working group will recommend a much broader congress that takes away the ability for the nine state federations to vote as a bloc – termed a “gerrymander” by former Adelaide United chairman Griffin – and provide a pathway for other stakeholders like coaches, referees and supporters to join in future.
It’s anticipated the group will also push for the A-League to be run independently of FFA – a recommendation of the Crawford Report in 2003 that was not enforced when Lowy came to power.
FIFA has directed its findings be adopted at an FFA special general meeting by September 7.