FIFA may intervene in Australia standoff as compromise hopes fade
The future of Australian football is in the hands of FIFA after accusations that Football Federation Australia (FFA) chairman Steven Lowy twice derailed political consensus over an extraordinary 24 hours.
A joint FIFA/ Asian Football Confederation delegation will return to Zurich on Thursday to report back on what one A-League club chairman described as an "embarrassing" show of the game's governance.
FIFA spent two days in Sydney seeking to broker a compromise on its mandate that FFA broadens its congress to give more stakeholders a say in how the game is run.
Given the drawn-out and toxic nature of the impasse, such a task was always going to go down to the wire.
In the end, a capitulation from wavering state federations left furious A-League clubs calling for Lowy's head and resigned to the fact that FIFA may be forced to sack the board and appoint a normalisation committee to temporarily run the sport.
On Thursday afternoon, Lowy hauled the state federations into a private meeting lasting two hours, leaving FIFA representatives and some 15 stakeholders waiting as negotiation time ticked away.
Australian Associated Press reported that Lowy, deployed as a facilitator in this process, had already stymied the first breakthrough between the clubs, the players' union and states, intervening late on Wednesday by calling a snap meeting with the states to reassert his influence.
Hopes for an end to the situation appeared all but lost during Thursday's acrimonious all-in session, comprising about 40 representatives from the various parties.
The clubs and Professional Footballers Australia again reached resolution with the states, only for the states' subsequent behind-closed-doors conference with Lowy to untangle that work.
Previously, all state federations except the largest, Football NSW, supported FFA's proposal of a 13-seat congress featuring nine votes for the nine state federations, three for the clubs and one for PFA.
The A-League clubs, operating collectively under the Australian Professional Football Clubs Association, have long been united with PFA in fighting for a 9-6-2 model.