Lowy, FFA avoid sack but FIFA firmly in charge

FFA chairman Steven Lowy has been given a vote of confidence by FIFA.
FFA chairman Steven Lowy has been given a vote of confidence by FIFA.

FOOTBALL: FIFA is to take control of the bitter battle for control of Australian football, with officials from the world governing body coming to Australia in the New Year to bring the civil-warring parties together.

Though the threat of FIFA taking over the direct running of Australian football has been put on hold for now, it has decided to oversee a "working group" to map out the future of the game here.

In correspondence sent to FFA, seen by News Corp Australia, FIFA said it had agreed to FFA's proposal for a working group to redefine the power structure at the top of the game "provided that FIFA and AFC are fully involved in the process".

Despite relations between the A-League clubs, some of the state federations and FFA having become increasingly acrimonious, FIFA will still attempt to engineer a compromise over the division of votes in FFA's annual Congress, the body which elects FFA's directors.

FFA chairman Steven Lowy has been given a vote of confidence by FIFA.
FFA chairman Steven Lowy has been given a vote of confidence by FIFA.

But the key difference is that FIFA's letter made clear it would control the latest attempts to build a new model, with a defined end date for a process that has gone on for almost two years.

In the letter FIFA said its delegation would "meet with the stakeholders (Member federatlons, A-League clubs, PFA) and any other relevant interlocutors, such as the Association of Australian Football Clubs (AAFC), that have been established in the meantime."

Based on the feedback received, FIFA would then "define the terms of reference of the Congress review working group, which include its objective, composition, mandate and timeline".

After Football Federation Australia chairman Steven Lowy failed to get his reform model passed last week, FIFA decided not to follow through on its threat to sack Lowy's board and put in place its own "normalisation committee", that would have led to FIFA-appointed officials executing decisions such as appointing the new Socceroos coach.

The long-running dispute has centred on FFA's Congress, which FIFA has decreed is not democratic enough and needs to give more say to the A-League clubs, the players' union and the women's game.

Lowy has fought a battle to limit the number of votes allocated to the clubs, who in turn have accused him of trying to retain control of the game's future.

In a media statement issued separately, Lowy claimed that FFA would establish the working group, with "direct support" from FIFA.

"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," Lowy said in the statement.