FOOTBALL: The threat of FIFA taking over the running of Australian football has been put on hold after the world governing body agreed to establish a "working group” to map out the future of the game here.
After Football Federation Australia chairman Steven Lowy failed to get his reform model passed last week, FIFA decided to send its own staff here in the new year to work with the bitterly opposed parties in the battle for control of the game.
In a move that effectively kicks the issue of Australian football governance into the long grass, FIFA's member associations committee agreed to continue a process already nearly two years old.
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 power structure at the head of the game.
The working group does not appear designed for a quick resolution, with initial meetings planned merely to establish its "terms of reference”, including who will actually be in it.
Had FIFA followed 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, the annual body that elects FFA's directors, 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.
"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 a statement.
"In a wider sense, this process will enable all Australian stakeholders to work together on a shared vision for our game at every level.
"In the meantime, FFA will ... engage with stakeholders on a new league operating model and expansion of the A-League as soon as possible, continue its work ... on Australia's bid for the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup, (and) appoint a new head coach for the Socceroos.”
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