Sport Football Aussie soccer chief Steven Lowy drops in on FIFA in bid to end stand-off

Aussie soccer chief Steven Lowy drops in on FIFA in bid to end stand-off

Steven Lowy's softly-softly call on FIFA officials in Zurich failed to solve Australian soccer's deadlock.
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Steven Lowy has met with FIFA ahead of the world governing body’s intervention to sort out the stand-off over Australian football’s governance.

The Football Federation Australia (FFA) chairman, who was in Europe on business, jetted into Zurich in early June for talks with FIFA officials.

AAP understands Lowy met with Chief Member Associations Officer Joyce Cook soon after FIFA’s member associations committee rejected FFA’s proposed expanded congress model as unrepresentative.

The committee also threatened to disband the FFA board and establish a normalisation committee if a sufficiently democratic membership was not in place by the end of November, with the help of a joint FIFA/AFC delegation set to arrive in Australia next month seeking to broker a compromise.

While the exact nature of Lowy’s talks with FIFA is unclear, it is understood Australian stakeholders were not informed.

FFA confirmed Lowy had been at FIFA headquarters in Zurich.

“Following the recent decision by FIFA’s member associations committee to send a delegation to Australia to assist with congress discussions, Steven took the opportunity while he was in Europe to further discuss FIFA’s approach to the congress and arrangements for the visit,” a spokesperson told AAP in a statement.

It’s understood the A-League clubs, under the umbrella of the Australian Professional Football Clubs Association, have also made direct contact with Ms Cook as the rift between FFA and the clubs turns acidic.

At the pointy end of the impasse is the make-up of the expanded congress demanded by FIFA and set to end the FFA board’s effective control of the game.

The current 10-seat membership is made up of the nine state member federations, while the 10 A-League clubs collectively hold only one vote.

FFA informed FIFA late last month it had reached a better than 75 per cent consensus for its since-rejected 9-3-1 model, comprised of the nine state member federations, two seats for the A-league clubs, one for the W-League and another for the players’ union, Professional Footballer’s Australia (PFA).

Those who voted against that model were the A-League clubs and the largest state member federation, Football New South Wales.

They, along with PFA, want a 9-5-2 model.

Complicating the power struggle is the fight for money from a new TV deal, which is hindering the development of a new operating and ownership model.

Clubs are furious at FFA’s refusal to grant what they believe is a fair share of A-League revenue, having rejected FFA’s most recent offer of $3.55 million each per year – the most FFA says it can afford.

In the clubs’ pursuit of at least $4 million each, some owners are understood to be considering legal action against FFA in an attempt to force it to reveal detail of its finances, something the governing body believes it should not be required to do.