Whether we like it or not, November 30 2017 will forever live as a crossroads day for Australian football with a board clinging to power, a duo refusing to accept defeat and an uncertain future for the world game in Australia.
Yet if you watched today’s press conference you may have been fooled.
Despite the looming axe above their heads from FIFA, Football Federation Australia (FFA) CEO David Gallop and Chairman Steven Lowy faced the media today almost as if they had assured employment indefinitely.
It’s almost like the governing body can see some sort of light at the end of the tunnel and are wading through a sea of national disparage with the hope of continuing their tenure.
Talking of a new Socceroos coach and the national team not playing until March, they stubbornly attacked those who had voted against their unpopular reform.
But for what value?
Infighting in our game has cost us in the past, and instead of humbly accepting defeat and falling on their own swords, the FFA board now fights for the ‘money and control’ they argue the member federations and clubs crave.
Listening to Steven Lowry’s press conference responses reinforced how belligerent and self-righteous he is. He hasn’t just lost the dressing room, he has lost the fans as well. #FFApocalypse #FFAGM2017— George Ploumidis (@georgeploumidis) November 30, 2017
Ok I watched the Lowy presser. I am inclined to agree with him re the aleague clubs & larger states Not sure how he will go negotiating with fifa but I hope he buys time to create the independent Aleague to maximise the return to the game & then he should walk away #FFApocalypse— scott (@SFynmore) November 30, 2017
It goes to show however just how out of tune the governing body is that as they spin this as a power grab by the clubs and member federations, they deny the true cause for the failure of their proposed reforms.
The A-League clubs were not voting against reform, but rather the fact that the reforms didn’t go far enough.
In one way or another, the tendrils of FFA would still have a wrenching grip on Australian football.
Lowy even fell shy of admitting that they had been holding back on expansion, laying to blame that a two-team expansion next season was off the cards due to the congress not swallowing the proposed reforms.
In saying that there were wins, such as the TV deal and the Commercial Bargaining Agreement for women’s football, but the Lowy board failed to capitalise on what football fans crave.
In perhaps a sense of blinded self-indulgence, Lowy proudly boasted the game was currently at its ‘best ever’ state.
However, to turn a statistic that the governing body have loved to bandy around, the key metrics have stagnating in the past few years with World Cup and Asian Cup years providing a brief respite.
The game has stagnated, with less people tuning into both paid and free-to-air coverage since the 2015 Asian Cup.
There are also times where the glaring ignorance of the footballing family has been plain for the eye to see.
Last December, expansion support hit fever pitch, so much so that the governing body promised to release a criterion for future clubs.
But that deadline passed, and faded into memory as FFA dug in for a year-long fight against its own footballing community.
But it’s not all doom and gloom as we do stand on the precipice of a bright future for Australian football.
Initiatives like ‘The Championship’ have enthralled state league clubs and supporters with a pipedream of eventual representation at the highest level.
SL: We agree that a national second tier is a good objective, but it is an objective that is some time away.— Football Australia (@FFA) November 30, 2017
Should Gallop and Lowy fall on their own swords for the sake of the game in Australia, it will be crucial for any incoming board to heed the voices of the footballing family.
The whole point of FIFA intervention is to ensure that a governing body is in place with a strong core built around democratic process.
For a country that prides itself on its sporting culture, our sport’s governing body will now undergo its second major restructure in 13 years.
For that reason alone, we must ensure that we get this right for the future of our sport.
Just like we transitioned from ‘Soccer’ to ‘Football’ over a decade ago, we must now take full advantage of our sport’s potential and capitalise on the support of our great game.
The voice of the football fraternity has never been louder or in unison and tapping into that vein will only ensure the success of football in Australia going forward.