Information Memorandum response from CRWG Members

I N F O R M A T I O N   M E M O R A N D U M

Following the publication of the FIFA mandated Congress Review Working Group (‘CRWG’) Report on the 7th of August 2018 – the CRWG Members representing the Member Federations, the APFCA and the PFA, wish to provide the following information to the Australian football community, in response to the comments recently made by the Board and Management of Football Federation Australia.

 Board and management of FFA comment:

The proposed model excessively weights votes towards “professional” football at the expense of “grassroots” football and effectively would allow the professional game when acting as a block to dictate the election of directors to the FFA Board

CRWG context:

This assertion is without merit and without substance.

The FIFA mandated CRWG was tasked with establishing a more representative and balanced Congress for Australian football. This task included the need to embrace existing (including member federations, A and W League clubs, and players) and future (women’s football, NPL clubs, coaches, referees, futsal, fans and the like) stakeholders who previously have not had a voice or vote in the leadership of Australian football.

In ensuring full compliance in addressing FIFA’s mandated Terms of Reference, one of the key parameters of the CRWG was to make certain that no stakeholder group held a controlling interest in the game’s governance, especially in relation to electing directors (per Mr Luca Nicola – FIFA email to Mark Falvo – FFA on 15 March 2017).

Given that the current FFA Statutes require a ‘Prescribed Majority’ (being 60%) of the Congress to elect a director, and the member federations (who represent the ‘grassroots’) held 90%, it was mandated that the recommendations of the CRWG should not allow the member federations (or any other stakeholder group) to hold 60% or more of the Congress vote.

Importantly, the A-League Clubs and Professional Footballers Australia acknowledged and supported the importance of the ‘grassroots’ perpetually retaining the majority of Australian football’s Congress.

As such, the CRWG Report provides and recommends for the existing ‘grassroots’ representatives, being the member federations, to retain more than a simple majority of the Congress (being 55%).

Regarding the election of directors, the CRWG Report provides and recommends a healthy and robust system that:

  • establishes a strong Director competencies and skills matrix (including a requirement to demonstrate tangible commitment and understanding of football);
  • the establishment of an independent Nominations Committee to qualify applicant nominations;
  • requires at least two members (from different stakeholder groups) to nominate and endorse a nomination for a candidate for election to the FFA Board; and
  • requires more than one stakeholder group to ultimately elect directors.

Furthermore, and for the first time in Australian football, the CRWG Report recommends for additional direct input through the representatives of grassroots and community football participating in the Grassroots & Community Football Committee, which provides advice directly to the board and management of FFA.

Board and management of FFA comment:

The proposed model grants A-League clubs, acting as a block, the ability to veto amendments to the FFA Constitution

CRWG context:

This assertion is without merit and without substance.

The CRWG recognised the inherent governance risk that any group of Congress members representing one stakeholder group and holding more than 25% of the Congress votes could ‘veto’ a special resolution thought in the best and long-term interests of Australian football. 

Therefore, the CRWG Report provides and recommends that a special resolution can only be rejected on the support of more than 25% of the Congress and where members across two or more stakeholder groups were party to such denial.

Most importantly, the CRWG Report’s recommendation should ensure that any future special resolution proposed is consulted with all stakeholders, with the requisite support attracted, before being presented to members at a General Meeting.

Board and management of FFA comment:

The proposed model delivers PFA a disproportionately greater voting representation than each Member Federation

CRWG context:

This assertion is without merit and without substance and is inconsistent with the Congress model submitted to CRWG by the board and management of FFA.

One of the most significant challenges to producing a set of recommendations in the best and long-term interests of Australian football required those members elected to the CRWG to set aside ‘historic entitlements’ based on contribution or size.

To deliver this environment, requires those member federations who represent more than 80% of total registered players, coaches, referees and clubs and who contribute financially to the FFA annually – to accept and share equal voting rights to those member federations who represent less than 20% of all participants and are financial beneficiaries of the FFA.

This demonstration of setting the game before self-interest was a keystone achievement of the CRWG recommendations – and one upon which all other recommendations of the CRWG have been founded.

Moreover, the FIFA mandated CRWG acknowledged the strong intellectual contribution and active advocacy for all levels of Australian football Professional Footballers Australia has delivered over twenty-five years.

Additionally, in modelling submitted to and for the consideration of the CRWG on 27 July, the board and management of FFA proposed 7 direct votes for the PFA, which is consistent with the recommendations tabled within the CRWG Report to FIFA (and the AFC).

Board and management of FFA comment:

The Women’s Council appears to extend the voting reach of other stakeholders at the expense of a truly independent voice for the women’s game

CRWG context:

Regrettably, since Football Federation Australia’s deregistration of the Australian Women’s Soccer Association in 2003, there has not existed an independent, and appropriately constituted and governed women’s football representative body contributing to the game’s leadership.

Tasked with the responsibility of addressing this void, and the need for establishing an environment that entrenches the involvement of women in the leadership of Australian football, the CRWG sought the input of many stakeholders on the matter of women’s representation within the leadership of Australian football, including Women’s Onside, all member federations, the PFA and of course, the board and management of FFA.

During these discussions, no single evident and clearly practical model satisfying each of these objectives was found, requiring the CRWG and its contributing stakeholders to develop an entirely tailored set of governance platforms and systems.

To that end, the CRWG Report provides and recommends for establishing women’s leadership in football on three main tenets, being:

  • a gender equity charter, mandating a 40/40/20 gender principle, that for the first time embeds gender equity at all levels of Australian football’s leadership;
  • the establishment of a Football Women’s Council, which as an individual stakeholder holds more votes than any other Congress member; and
  • establishes the role of the Women’s Football Council as a strong advisory support to the board and management of the FFA.

Moreover, to invalidate any perceived risk of any extension or proxy of the voting rights of other stakeholders, the CRWG Report provides and recommends for each member of the Women’s Football Council to also carry individual votes.

Additionally, the Women’s Football Council would be chaired by an independent.

Ultimately, the CRWG Report both satisfies the expectations Article 15J of the FIFA Statutes (Principles of Representative Democracy) as mandated by FIFA, and embeds the strongest attention to addressing gender equity in Australian football’s leadership.

Significantly, the pathway system for new stakeholders recommended by the CRWG Report provides for new and independent women’s football members to be established and admitted to the Women’s Football Council, which collectively hold ten percent (10%) of Congress.

Board and management of FFA comment:

The proposed model does not sufficiently broaden the membership of FFA at the outset – to this end, the FFA Board was supportive of the immediate admission of special interest groups including AAFC in light of the importance of NPL Clubs in the Australian football ecosystem

CRWG context:

Since 2003, Football Federation Australia has not formally considered or invited any new stakeholder to participate as a voting member and have never established any pathway for the introduction of new stakeholders.  This was also rejected by the FFA at the most recent FFA AGM in November 2017.

Rather than simply recommending for the inclusion of new stakeholders, many of whom have not been established yet, the CRWG set upon designing and delivering a clear and definitive pathway and process for any new stakeholder to becoming a voting member of the FFA.

This pathway would require any new stakeholder to demonstrate ‘institutional integrity’, by satisfying a set of distinct qualifying requirements.

The CRWG acknowledged the emergence of potential Members, such as the AAFC, a dedicated women’s special interest group, fans and coaches and the possibility of additional groups forming such as futsal, for whom this process was designed.

The value and purpose of establishing such a system is two-fold:

  • to provide a transparent structured pathway for new stakeholders to become Members, and
  • to establish a strong system that always protects the game and its members by requiring new Congress Members to demonstrate organisational and representative integrity, longevity and competence.

On the matter of the AAFC, the CRWG commends the incredible work that body has undertaken, and the milestones already achieved for their members, the NPL clubs, who are so integral to the competition and player development framework of the member federations.

The CRWG met numerous times with representatives of the AAFC, inviting and welcoming their contribution to the pathway process ultimately recommended by the CRWG Report, of which they have been acknowledged as having progressed significantly, including achieving the status that would see their immediate participation in standing committees.

Board and management of FFA comment:

The proposed pathway to an alternate A-League model is inconsistent with the foundational good governance principle that independent directors should manage the affairs of FFA in accordance with their fiduciary duties in the interests of FFA. The proposed pathway instead blurs the role between Board and Congress decision-making. The FFA Board instead proposed a process which preserves the roles and responsibilities of each stakeholder while consulting with all stakeholders throughout the process before a final vote of the Congress on the proposed A-League model.

CRWG context:

Whilst acknowledging the pathway proposed by the board and management of FFA, the CRWG also sought the contribution of parties holding expertise and experience in matters of establishing, leading and managing professional leagues internationally.

The outcomes of these contributors created the recommendations contained in the report that – notwithstanding the model to be developed – the relevant key stakeholders of Australian football should be involved in the design of the new League Model through the establishment and then direct participation in a New League Working Group (working title only). 

The CRWG recognised that the New League Working Group would yield a model that was truly reflective of the needs of the Australian football stakeholders and one that would further unite the Australian game. 

Moreover, and more significantly, the CRWG Report provides and recommends that the FFA Congress shall be the ultimate legislative body for any resolution to establishing an alternate A-League model – not solely the board and management of FFA – to protect the rights of and relationship to the grassroots.

Reassuringly, the system of decision-making recommended in the CRWG Report is established as a demonstration of strong governance and transparency and supported by the FIFA Statutes.


Editors Notes:

For further information please contact:

Damaris Treasure

APFCA Communications

[email protected]

Tel: +61 406 506 069