Sport Australia has waded into the Football Federation Australia congress war, with CEO Kate Palmer declaring the organisation does not support governance changes proposed by a FIFA-backed working group.
In a letter to the nine state federations and the A-League clubs, Palmer said it would be a “concern” to Sport Australia if all of the recommendations made by the congress review working group (CRWG) were to be enacted.
“It is the view of Sport Australia, that there are a number of recommendations in the report that do not meet Sport Australia’s Sports Governance Principles,” Palmer wrote in the letter, which has been seen by AAP.
However, Palmer did not stipulate what those concerns were, flagging the release of a more detailed statement next week.
Outgoing FFA chairman Steven Lowy had previously used Sport Australia’s governance principles as the basis for his opposition to the reforms, arguing they would not preserve the independence of the FFA board. The CRWG proposals are due to be put for a vote at an FFA extraordinary general meeting later this month.
FIFA had stipulated that the EGM has to be called by Friday. Furious lobbying has continued behind the scenes as the camps who are pushing for FFA governance reform, and those resisting it, attempt to win the support of the men who will cast the votes.
The chairmen of four state federations — northern NSW, Tasmania, the ACT and Northern Territory — are still believed to be opposed to the CRWG’s findings and can block them from being adopted if they continue stick firm.
Palmer noted their position and said Sport Australia recommended that “the issues and concerns be worked through in time, and in good faith.”
It’s highly doubtful FIFA has the appetite for more discussions on the matter, having applied pressure for the last two years on FFA to fall in line with their statutes — so far with no success.
The involvement of Sport Australia, a federal government agency whose contributions to the CRWG report were noted within the 100-page document submitted to FIFA last month, has not been received well by the pro-reform parties. Whether it is viewed by FIFA as government interference in the running of the sport remains to be seen, but the global body tends to look dimly whenever governments do so directly.
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