The future of Australian football now rests in the hands of FIFA after accusations FFA chairman Steven Lowy twice derailed political consensus over an extraordinary 24 hours.
A joint FIFA/AFC delegation will return to Zurich on Thursday night to report back on what one A-League club chairman described as an “embarrassing” show of the domestic game’s governance.
FIFA spent two days in Sydney seeking to broker a compromise on its mandate that FFA broaden its congress to give more stakeholders a say in how the game is run.
Given the drawn-out and toxic nature of the impasse, such a task was always going to go down to the wire.
In the end, a capitulation from wavering state federations left furious A-League clubs calling for Lowy’s head and resigned to the fact FIFA may be forced to sack the board and appoint a normalisation committee to temporarily run the sport.
Incessant drama descended into farce at FFA headquarters on Thursday afternoon when Lowy hauled the state federations into a private meeting lasting two hours, leaving FIFA representatives and some 15 stakeholders waiting idle as valuable negotiation time ticked away.
It’s understood Lowy, despite being deployed as a facilitator in this process, had already stymied the first breakthrough between the clubs, players’ union and states, intervening late on Wednesday night by calling a snap meeting with the states to reassert his influence.
Hopes for an end to the imbroglio appeared all but lost during Thursday morning’s acrimonious all-in session comprising about 40 representatives from the various parties.
Yet over a long lunch, the clubs and Professional Footballers Australia again reached resolution with the states, only for the states’ subsequent behind-closed-doors conference with Lowy to untangle all the work.
The scuppered deal included an interim 15-member congress comprising nine votes for the state federations, five for the A-League clubs and one for the players.
That temporary 9-5-1 model was agreed to take the congress to the point of a creation of an independent A-League, at which point the clubs would lose one vote.
Previously, all state federations except the largest, Football NSW, supported FFA’s proposal for a 9-3-1 model which has since been rejected by FIFA as undemocratic.
The A-League clubs, operating collectively under the Australian Professional Football Clubs Association (APFCA), have long been united with PFA in their fight for a 9-6-2 framework.
“We are bitterly disappointed at not having reached consensus with our fellow stakeholders,” APFCA chairman Greg Griffin said.
We are equally disappointed at the obstruction of the process by the FFA board.”
FFA are yet to comment.