It’s been a long time coming

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It feels somewhat perverse to praise Fifa’s acumen during a week in which its handling of Russia has re-alerted the football community to its ethical compromises, but the world governing body’s intervention into Australian affairs appears astute.

The decision to lead a working group to address Australian football’s inability to expand its governing congress should, thankfully, herald the final act in the long-running saga. Moreover, by opting for a body consensual in nature but under Fifa/AFC direction, resolution should occur with the minimum of collateral damage.

This is not a normalisation committee, the most decisive option at Fifa’s disposal, nor is it more futile mediation. This is a strategic intervention T.J. Lang Womens Jersey that brings the end within sight while minimising the risk of a World Cup suspension and maximising the likelihood the head of Australia’s delegation in Russia will have been elected, not imposed.
What Fifa has managed to achieve Authentic Matt Niskanen USA Jersey is the prioritisation of the ends – the adoption of a more inclusive and representative membership model – by an appropriation of the means, the congress review working group.
For much of this process the case for democratisation has been held hostage by acrimony. The debate should always have been about the betterment of Australian football and the ideal governance arrangement for the game’s prosperity. This has not been the case and the longer the imbroglio has continued the more it has descended into an unseemly squabble over voting thresholds anchored by an unsatisfying status quo.
Fifa’s overdue entry to the scene has the potential to reframe this process for the better. It can now orchestrate a wide-ranging conversation, one that could unlock the untapped ambition and optimism of large sections of a football community fatigued or marginalised by business as usual. This is in contrast to the prolonged behind-closed-doors courting of a minority of stakeholders. It is a welcome opportunity to reboot.
Fifa’s action places FFA in a curious situation. By avoiding a normalisation committee it could be argued the decision is a win for Steven Lowy and his agenda. But there is not much else on offer to provide succour.
Fifa’s communique makes clear it will “define the terms of reference of the congress review working group, which include its objective, composition, mandate and timeline,” in other words benching FFA from its existing role in stewarding the democratisation process. Moreover, Fifa will do so having met with “the stakeholders (member federations, A-League Braylon Edwards Jersey clubs, PFA) and any other relevant interlocutors, such as the Association of Australian Football Clubs (AAFC), that have been established in the meantime”. This is consistent with all Fifa communication on this matter, avoiding direct reference to FFA and its leadership as a stakeholder.
The letter, signed by Zvonimir Boban, the former Croatian international, now Fifa deputy secretary general, is businesslike in tone but an undercurrent of irritation is detectable. Recent failings in the democratisation process are detailed in the second paragraph before the third opens with the following carefully chosen words: “In light of the above the committee eventually decided...”. That eventually is pregnant with meaning. Fifa is also keen to point out the need for “a timely conclusion”, which is understandable given it has already allowed FFA a nine-month extension on its original deadline to reach this point.
FFA’s public response drew plenty of ire. The opening line of its press release indicates it will establish the working group with “direct support” from Fifa, in contrast to the terms outlined in Fifa’s letter. When the A-League clubs issued their response later in the day they made Brian Quick Jersey sure to point out the “misleading nature” of FFA’s communication. Consequently, much of the immediate analysis of the situation on Thursday focused on FFA’s spin.


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