Football Federation Australia unhappy at FIFA-backed report

SYDNEY (AP) Football Federation Australia appears on course for a confrontation with FIFA after rejecting ”some crucial aspects” of a review backed by the world body into the structure of football’s governing congress in the country.

The congress review working group (CRWG) has made recommendations to FIFA for the expansion of the Australia congress after seven weeks of consultation with key stakeholders in Australian football.

The current FFA congress is seen as one of the smallest in world football and lacking significant female representation.

The CRWG report, which was completed to meet FIFA’s Tuesday deadline, has not been publicly released and its recommendations can only be revealed at FIFA’s discretion. FIFA commissioned the report to pressure the FFA to comply with statutes around the structure of national governing bodies after trying for several years to force change.

FIFA is reported to be ready to approve the report’s recommendations and to demand they be adopted at an FFA special general meeting on Sept. 7. But that seems unlikely after FFA chairman Steven Lowy released a statement on Tuesday expressing opposition to aspects of the report.

”There are many elements of the report which are positive steps and wholly supported by the FFA board,” Lowy said. ”However, there are also some crucial aspects of the report which the FFA board does not believe are in the best interests of the game and are inconsistent with its guiding principles.”

The FFA is thought to have enough support from state federations to vote down the changes. If the CRWG proposals are not passed, FIFA has the power to dismiss the FFA board and replace it with a committee which would run football in Australia.

The FFA’s objection is reportedly to the balance of votes which would exist on an enlarged congress. The CRWG recommendations would see considerably more voting power handed to owners of teams in Australia’s professional A-League.

State federations, who are supported by the FFA, fear that structure would diminish the power of grassroots or non-professional football. At the same time, the FFA’s recommendations for reform have been rejected by FIFA.