SYDNEY, Nov 8 (Reuters) - Ben Buckley has been named chief executive officer of Football Federation Australia (FFA), the governing body of Australian soccer said on Wednesday.
Buckley, former chief operating officer of Australian Rules body the AFL, will replace John O'Neill, who is stepping down after three years in charge.
'Ben is the best of the new generation of Australian sporting administrators,' FFA chairman Frank Lowy told a news conference.
'He has the track record and undoubted potential to consolidate the gains football has made in the past three years and take the sport to the next level both in Australia and internationally.'
Buckley, who played for North Melbourne's Kangaroos in the AFL from 1986-93, was formerly director of marketing for Nike Australia and Nike Japan, and worked for the AFL for seven years.
'I am honoured to have been given the opportunity by Frank and the Board of FFA to lead the next phase for Football in Australia and look forward to meeting the challenge and creating opportunities for further growth,' Buckley said.
'Football has made some giant leaps forward in the last few years with the success of the launch of the Hyundai A-League and the recent World Cup performance and I look forward to working with the team at FFA and the wider Football Community to build on those foundations and accelerate the growth.'
Lowy believes Buckley is the right man to take over from O'Neill, who had been seen as key to the revival of soccer's fortunes in rugby-mad Australia.
'He has a wealth of experience at the grass roots and at the highest commercial and strategic level of sport, as well as the energy and enthusiasm to match football's potential,' Lowy said.
'He is very well regarded within the broader sporting community and the corporate sector and enjoys an excellent relationship with governments, broadcasters and major sponsors.'
O'Neill, former head of the Australian Rugby Union, oversaw the setting up of Australia's domestic A-League and a successful period for the national team.
The Socceroos reached the World Cup finals for the first time since 1974 and advanced to the last 16 at this year's tournament in Germany. They have already qualified for next year's Asian Cup finals.