FFA chiefs jet to Zurich to meet FIFA president in bid to retain power

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heraldsun.com.au

Australian soccer chiefs Steven Lowy and David Gallop will fly to Zurich this week to in a last-ditch attempt to delay FIFA-imposed reform and cling onto their powerbase.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino will hold talks with the Football Federation Australia bosses on Wednesday, at the request of the Australian duo.

The Sunday Herald Sun understands the pair will plead for an extension on the March deadline for local reform, requested by FIFA to address the lack of democratic process in FFA board elections.

Gallop and Lowy will have to defend the lack of wide democracy at the FFA.

FIFA confirmed the meeting to the Sunday Herald Sun.

“We can confirm that on 1 February a delegation of the Australian Football Federation will be received here in Zurich by the FIFA president,’’ a FIFA spokesman said.

Despite widespread criticism in Australian soccer circles of the process leading to the father-to-son handover, Steven Lowy replaced Frank Lowy unopposed as FFA chairman in November 2015.

FFA successfully delayed reform until after the elections, with Gallop arguing in a letter to FIFA that change might compromise TV rights negotiations.

Just 10 voters — the lowest of the 211 FIFA member nations — elect the FFA board in what is almost certainly the most narrowly represented stakeholder group in the world.

The subordinate state and territory federations have nine votes, while the 10 A-League clubs have one collective vote.

Matildas, W-League and A-League players have no say, while futsal and referees have votes in most other countries.

“Steven Lowy and David Gallop will attend a long planned meeting with FIFA officials in Zurich this week to discuss a range of issues relating to the growth and development of the game in Australia including the process of reviewing the statutes and in particular the membership structure of Australian football,’’ an FFA spokesman said.

“They will report to the FFA Board later in February as well as update other stakeholders of the football community.

“Following the postponement of his scheduled trip to Australia last month, the FIFA president has made himself available to meet the FFA chairman and CEO.’’

FIFA delegates flew to Australia in September to address their concerns directly to FFA, after clamping down on the likes of New Zealand and China.

“We expect the FFA to have fully concluded the statutes alignment process by the end of March 2017. This includes approval by the Congress,” a FIFA spokesman told the Herald Sun last November.

“According to FIFA Statutes all member associations must ensure that their legislative bodies are constituted in accordance with the principle of representative democracy.

“We differentiate between three main groups of stakeholders, namely professional football, amateur football and so-called specific interest groups (players, coaches, women, futsal, etc).

“While all member associations have to be taken in their own context, the general principle foresees that no singular group of stakeholders should be able to impose decisions on the others (i.e. have a voting majority in congress).’’

By David Davutovic of the Herald Sun

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