Australia football body adopts reforms after FIFA threat

Sydney, October 2 (AFP) The governing body of Australian football on Tuesday voted for far-reaching reforms against the wishes of its outgoing president, ending a long battle that saw FIFA threaten to take over the federation

The 10-member Congress of Australia, nine state and territorial associations, and one representative of the A-League, voted 8-2 in favor of constitutional changes, strictly ensuring the 75% required.

A new expanded congress, which is expected to include the A-League clubs, the footballers association and a women's council, will meet at a later date to elect new directors for the council.

The world body FIFA has been pushing the FFA to adopt a more democratic governance model, the expansion supported by the national clubs of the A-League and the players' federation.

The reforms mean that Australia can defend its men's Asian Cup title in January, and the Matildas can play next year's Women's World Cup without any concerns about the status of FFA under FIFA.

But FFA president Steven Lowy, son of mall mogul Westfield and former FFA chief Frank Lowy, said the move could compromise the agency's independence, warning that a "red line" crossed.

"Clearly, the FFA board is extremely disappointed with the outcome of today's meeting," said Lowy, who confirmed that he will not seek re-election when his term ends in November.

"We believe the loser today is the principle of independent governance". Lowy argued that giving clubs more power would give their overseas owners too much control of the game in Australia, at the expense of grassroots football.

"Suffice it to say that today's game has crossed the red line, from a model of corporate governance for football, to one with stakeholders with vested interests (who) will compete for power and resources," he added. .

A working group is expected to discuss a new model for the A-League, whose teams generate a lot of sport revenue in Australia, as well as the body that represents the players, wanted to have more say in how the game works. FFA

If the recommendations had not been adopted at Tuesday's special general meeting in Sydney, FIFA could have set up a standardization committee to take over the FFA.

More than half of the 10 clubs in the A-League have foreign ownership, including the city of Melbourne, which are owned by the City Football Group of Abu Dhabi.

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