FIFA moves to end foot­ball’s civil war

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - TOM SMITHIES

AN 11th- hour bid will be made to avoid a FIFA takeover of Aus­tralian foot­ball early to­day af­ter hours of talks to find a com­pro­mise so­lu­tion to the game’s civil war.

All the stake­hold­ers in the bat­tle for con­trol of the game will come to­gether at Foot­ball Fed­er­a­tion Aus­tralia’s head­quar­ters, for what in­sid­ers have de­scribed as the first mass at­tempt to se­cure a deal over the vot­ing struc­ture of FFA’s Congress.

Af­ter a del­e­ga­tion from FIFA – sent to seek a com­pro­mise – met all par­ties at length yes­ter­day, pri­vate dis­cus­sions be­tween the A- League clubs and heads of the state fed­er­a­tions were due to con­tinue late into the evening.

FIFA has warned that if agree­ment can’t be reached, it will ef­fec­tively sack the FFA board and ap­point a so- called “nor­mal­i­sa­tion com­mit­tee” to take over in the in­terim.

Two years af­ter FIFA first warned FFA it needed to widen the vot­ing struc­ture of its mem­ber­ship, hopes of an agreed out­come were set to go down to the wire, with the three- man del­e­ga­tion from FIFA and the Asian Foot­ball Con­fed­er­a­tion due to leave Aus­traliaA t li l late to­day. So far, a re­form pro­posed by FFA chair­man Steven Lowy ( pic­tured) – with the state fed­er­a­tions keep­ing nine votes, the clubs get­ting an in­crease from one to three and the play­ers’ union get­ting one vote for the first time – has been re­jected by FIFA as not rep­re­sen­ta­tive enough of the game.

The clubs have pressed hard for up to six votes, ar­gu­ing they pro­vide the bulk of the game’s in­come and need a far greater say in its run­ning.

It is be­lieved the out­lines of a draft agree­ment were be­ing d dis­cussed by the clubs and the fe fed­er­a­tions in the hope a com­pro­mise could be pre­sented to FIFA to­day when all par­ties come to­gether.

Whether that would re­quire the im­pri­matur of Lowy re­mains to be seen, af­ter the FFA chair­man is­sued a hard line de­fence of his po­si­tion on the week­end in a lengthy state­ment that at­tacked the clubs’ po­si­tion.

All par­ties in­volved de­clined to com­ment yes­ter­day, hav­ing agreed to main­tain a pub­lic si­lence dur­ing the talks.

The im­passe over vot­ing re­form – and a threat of le­gal ac­tion against FFA by the clubs over ac­cess to its ac­counts – have stymied months of talks over the fu­ture model of the A- League, whose own­ers have de­manded a much in­creased cen­tral grant from FFA be­fore next sea­son, with

Lowy has ac­cused them of seek­ing “a re­turn to the bad old days of self in­ter­est”.

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