Government risks FIFA ire after stepping into football war

Federal Sports Minister Greg Hunt has been advised to butt out of the feud over who runs Australian football, after comments attributed to him placed the government on a collision course with FIFA.

Hunt

Australian Minister for Sport Greg Hunt talking to the media Source: Getty Images

Adelaide United chairman Greg Griffin, speaking on behalf of the Australian Professional Football Clubs Association, said Hunt owed football's stakeholders an explanation after allegedly telling a Women in Football forum in Melbourne last week that, if FIFA was in control of the Australian game, then Australia will not be successful in mounting a bid to stage the 2023 Women's World Cup.

The world body is expected to sack the Steven Lowy-led FFA board as early as this Friday, assuming Thursday's Annual General Meeting (AGM) between stakeholders fails to deliver meaningful agreement on a reform model for greater inclusivity over the election of board members.

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Hunt's intervention is untimely since FIFA takes a particularly dim view of government meddling or interference in the statutes of its member associations.

FIFA is currently delving into reports of government interference with the Peruvian FA, and has foreshadowed the possibility that the South American nation could be booted out of Russia 2018.

While such a scenario is unlikely to befall Australia, Griffin said: "I am lost for words, if this is correct, that the federal minister would have made comments designed to influence the outcome of the resolutions.

"It has the potential to cause massive problems for us with FIFA in terms of maintaining the spot which we have in Russia. 

"Why would he put our spot at risk in such a way? And if he did say this, he owes everybody an explanation over exactly why he said it."



It's not just Griffin questioning Hunt's motives, with queries likely to be raised in federal parliament over him stepping into the imbroglio between FFA and the advocates for change, the A-League clubs, the PFA and non-compliant State Federations, Victoria and NSW.

With the November 30 FIFA deadline for a resolution in the long drawn out battle now imminent, the focus has been on Victoria, with startling claims that the Victorian government has lobbied Football Federation Victoria (FFV), and its chairman Kimon Taliadoros, to flip allegiances and align himself with Lowy, whose grip on the levers of power has never been more tenuous.

Sources close to FFV insist that the state is not for changing, thus denying FFA the 75 per cent majority to carry the vote for its vision of reform at Thursday's AGM.

Regardless of the outcome, FIFA is favoured to impose a normalisation committee unless it is satisfied all designated stakeholders are afforded adequate representation in an expanded and democratised Congress.


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Published 28 November 2017 at 12:59pm
By Dave Lewis