Football Federation Australia votes for governance reform

October 2, 2018

SYDNEY (AP) — Football Federation Australia has avoided a looming confrontation with world governing body FIFA after agreeing to reform its governance structure at a meeting of its ruling congress Tuesday.

The congress, comprising representatives of seven state federations and the professional A-League, voted 8-2 in favor of the change, promoted by FIFA, which will allow a greater range of voices to be heard in football decision-making in Australia. Had there been one fewer affirmative vote at Tuesday’s extraordinary general meeting, the constitutional changes would have been defeated.

Outgoing chairman Stephen Lowy strongly opposed the reforms, which will expand the influence of A-League teams and establish a women’s congress. He won support from several of the smaller state federations but reformers won out in Tuesday’s vote. Lowy, who succeeded his father Frank as FFA chairman, is expected to step down next month.

The decision likely staves off the threat of FIFA intervention in Australian football. FIFA had forcefully instructed the FFA to broaden its governance base and might have stepped in if it failed to do so.

The world body issued a blunt, final warning ahead of Tuesday’s meeting. It a letter to Lowy, FIFA secretary general Fatma Samoura said FIFA “clearly anticipates that the proposed changes to the FFA Constitutions will be adopted at tomorrow’s EGM.”

Failure to comply might have seen FIFA remove the congress and install its own “normalization committee.”

The new congress is likely to convene for the first time next month to elect directors. Its first order of business may be to consider expansion plans for the A-League, though that might now be delayed.

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