FIFA endorsement puts pressure back on FFA
FIFA has rubber-stamped the sweeping Australian governance reforms it instigated and urged dissenting local parties to adopt the changes in coming weeks.
In a sizeable step towards completing the game's drawn-out and acrimonious overhaul, the world governing body's member associations committee has informed Football Federation Australia and other stakeholders it had endorsed the congress review working group's (CRWG) recommendations.
Among other things, the CRWG calls for a significant expansion to FFA's congress - the body responsible for electing the board - and a proposed pathway for an independent A-League in time for the 2019-20 season.
A letter sent to Football Federation Australia chairman Steven Lowy late on Wednesday night and seen by News Corp Australia confirmed the committee had received and "welcomed with great appreciation" the CRWG's proposals.
That letter was supported by a near-identical statement from FIFA.
The move leaves the under-fire Lowy with little choice but to follow through with his announcement last week he will not seek re-election in November, declaring he "would not, under any circumstances, wish to serve in a governance structure where independence was compromised".
Dated August 22 and signed by FIFA secretary general Fatma Samoura, the correspondence called out the intention of the FFA board and four state member federations to block the reforms, which would leave Australia vulnerable to suspension.
"The Committee was also apprised of the reservations and objections expressed by the FFA Board as well as four of the nine Member Federations, namely Capital Football, Northern Territory, Tasmania and Northern NSW, regarding certain aspects of the CRWG's recommendations in this context, the Committee also took note of the response by the CRWG to these comments," the letter read.
Regardless, FIFA green-lighted the 100-page document, submitted last month and signed off by the chairmen of the four biggest state federations, two A-League club representatives, Professional Footballers Australia's chief executive and FFA director Chris Nikou, along with independent chairperson Judith Griggs.
"It further confirmed that the proposed recommendations are fully in line with FlFA's requirements, in particular art. 15 of the FlFA Statutes," it read.
"While it encouraged the FIFA administration to reach out to the four above-mentioned Member Federations to address their reservations if they continue to persist, the Committee moved that the recommendations of the CRWG be submitted to an extraordinary general meeting of the FFA to be convened as soon as possible in accordance with the regulaton/framework of the FFA."
Crucially, FIFA requested an update on the progress of the matter in time for its rescheduled meeting on September 26.
FFA must give notice for an extraordinary general meeting to put the resolutions forward for adoption no later than September 7.
An amendment to FFA's constitution is required to pass the changes, with 75 per cent - or eight of the 10 current congress votes - needed for an in-favour vote.
As it stands, the ACT and Northern Territory are almost certain to back Lowy and vote the reforms down.
It leaves potential swing states Tasmania and Northern NSW in a critical position of power, with a no vote from one enough to scupper constitutional change.
Together, those four states represent 18 per cent of Australia's total registered players.