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Report recommends independent A-League amid FFA overhaul

August 7, 2018

SYDNEY (AP) — A FIFA-backed working group has recommended the A-League become independent of Football Federation Australia and that the congress of the sport’s national governing body be almost trebled in size.

The 100-page report of the congress review working group was made public Tuesday, casting some light on a growing impasse between Australian administrators and FIFA.

The report recommendations are likely to be approved at a meeting of FIFA’s member associations committee on Aug. 20 before being put to a vote at a FFA extraordinary general meeting next month.

The FFA has already expressed its opposition to the recommendations and is likely to be supported in opposing them by at least four of its provincial federations.

If the vote fails, Australia could potentially be suspended from FIFA membership.

The report, signed off by all eight of the working group’s members, including FFA board member Chris Nikou, notes the opposition of the FFA board.

In its two key recommendations the working group calls for the expansion of the FFA congress from 10 to 29 members and for the A-League to eventually become independent of the FFA.

“This report and its recommendations represent an opportunity for a new era of collaboration, transparency and democracy for Australian football,” the chief executive of the Australian Professional Football Clubs Association Greg Griffin said. “They are borne from a process of unprecedented cooperation and engagement between the diverse stakeholders of our game — interactions that should be given every chance of becoming the cornerstone of a brighter future for the entire game.”

The working group recommends the congress comprise the existing nine provincial federations, Australian A-League clubs, the players’ union and a new women’s council. The allocation of votes in congress is designed to take away the ability for any one group to elect or remove directors or pass constitutional change without support from another.

It also commits to a review of FFA’s governance structures every four years.

The report calls for the formation of a group to design a new operating model for the A-League, reporting by next March.

“There are many elements of the report which are positive steps and wholly supported by the FFA board,” FFA chairman Stephen Lowy said in a statement last week. “However, there are also some crucial aspects of the report which the FFA board does not believe are in the best interests of the game and are inconsistent with its guiding principles.”

The FFA said in a statement the proposed model weighs votes too heavily toward professional soccer at the expense of the grassroots and could “create an unacceptably high risk of the game’s resources being diverted away from critical areas of the game such as the national team programs and grassroots development, toward privately owned commercial interests.”

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