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 By AAP

FIFA instructs working group to find independent chairperson for FFA review

An independent chairperson will lead an eight-member panel that has been tasked by FIFA with fixing the broken governance structures of Football Federation Australia.

FIFA finally delivered its terms of reference for the "congress review working group" on Wednesday afternoon, several weeks after its self-imposed deadline.

The working group will include four representatives of the state federations, two from the A-League clubs, one from Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) and one FFA board member.

It will be left among them to decide the identity of the independent chair by a unanimous vote. FIFA, however, has instructed that the person must have a strong track record in legal and governance issues, preferably in sport, and experience in mediation and negotiation.

If the group cannot settle on a chairperson, FIFA will make the appointment itself.

It will be the chair's responsibility to ensure the working group fulfils its mandate -- to determine a new structure for the FFA congress that includes a "broader and more balanced" representation of stakeholders, and bring the governing body in line with FIFA's statutes.

The group will take into account other issues, including the governance model of the A-League, with clubs keen to take over the running of the ailing competition from FFA, as well as the composition and independence of the FFA board.

David Gallop & Steven Lowy
FFA chairman Steven Lowy, right, has welcomed FIFA's terms of reference.

Throughout, it will seek input from Association of Australian Football Clubs -- the newly formed representative body of NPL clubs -- and Women's Onside, a lobby group seeking to increase women's involvement in the governance of the sport.

The A-League clubs, FFA, state federations and the PFA have been locked in a bitter power struggle for the past 18 months over what a reformed congress should look like, prompting the intervention from FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).

The working group has been ordered to deliver its proposal to FIFA and the AFC by July 31, which must be submitted by Sept. 7 at a special general FFA meeting.

"FFA supports expansion of the Congress to reflect the evolution of football in Australia and balance the interests of each part of the game. This should include significant movement towards gender equality at all levels of governance," FFA chairman Steven Lowy said.

"FFA also welcomes the reference to governance of the A-League because we want to work with the clubs and other stakeholders on a new ownership and operating model for the league that will benefit the whole of the game."

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