Letter to Members regarding FFA Statutes
We are writing to you with respect to the Football Federation Australia (FFA) Statutes (Constitution) compliance matter you may have recently read about and may be aware of.
Following on from queries at our recent Annual General Meeting on Friday 31 March, the Board of Football NSW has decided to update all members with respect to the process and progress on the amendment of FFA Statutes towards fulfilment and accordance with FIFA and Asian Football Confederation (AFC) standards and expectations of best-practice.
The matter relates to FFA’s existing statutes and the need to expand representation of its membership congress.
The issue dates to 2015, when FIFA and AFC first notified FFA of the need to raise the issue with members, and the need to address it.
To summarise what has become a delicate and necessary challenge, essentially, the FFA Statutes currently do not fulfil FIFA and AFC expected standards, and requirements for best-practice governance, as follows:
· No single stakeholder group should have a significant controlling power (that is, say, more than two-thirds or 66.6% majority). Currently state and territory federations hold 90% voting rights (being 9 votes from a total 10); and
· Broader stakeholder representation at national federation level is required. That is, the inclusion of what are termed ‘Special Interest Groups’ (that is, groups representing specific stakeholders like Players, Women’s Football, Coaches, Referees, Futsal, Clubs, etc.). In respect to this matter relating to FFA, the A-League clubs and Professional Footballers Australia are seeking greater representation within the FFA congress. Currently, the A-League clubs (through the Association of Professional Football Clubs) hold 1 vote from a total 10. Professional Footballers Australia, who represent professional players, hold no votes given they are not currently members of FFA’s Congress.
On the matter of Special Interest Groups, presently, there is insufficient support amongst the FFA Membership to include ‘Special Interest Groups’ for Coaches, Referees, Women’s Football, or Futsal within the Congress (in the immediate term), on the basis that these stakeholders do not have appropriately instituted, governed and operated national bodies that represent them.
Conversely, the FFA Membership has indicated support for the inclusion of Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) as a member of FFA’s Congress, as they:
· Represent a stakeholder group not currently represented or with voting rights at state and territory member federations;
· Have been appropriately incorporated, in 1993;
· Have a clearly defined membership;
· Have an acceptable constitution and organisational regulations, with demonstrated commitment to achieving the objectives and purposes for more than 23 years;
· Have an established Board Electoral process and an accordingly elected board; and
· Have a full-time, qualified management team
Moreover, and especially in NSW, each of the stakeholder groups mentioned earlier already has direct and appropriate representation within Football NSW’s Congress.
The Process and Football NSW’s position
Since September 2016, when FIFA and AFC visited Australia and met to raise and discuss the issue with each stakeholder group, FFA Members have been required to examine and consider how to address the current constitutional deficiencies towards compliance with FIFA and AFC standards and expectations, and study the optimal governance model for the FFA Congress moving forward, including an independent A-League.
Throughout this process, Football NSW has maintained open, respectful and empathetic dialogue with our peer state federations, the A-League clubs, the PFA, and the FFA, and we continue to work actively, positively and respectfully with all stakeholders in contributing to help resolve the matter for the football community and fans, to whom we are ultimately entrusted to service and develop the game.
Despite these efforts, there currently exists an impasse amongst the stakeholders in agreeing to the acceptable congress model, which has delayed the progress of resolving the situation.
Of most interest to you, the Board of Football NSW recently resolved unanimously in favour of a 9-5-1 position (being 9 Member Federations, 5 for A-League clubs and 1 for Special Interest Groups, namely Professional Footballers Australia).
Significantly, our position is independent and different to the position favoured and encouraged by FFA’s board and management (which incidentally, has been adopted by the state and territory federations of Northern Territory, Tasmania, Northern NSW, ACT, Western Australia, South Australia, and Queensland), which is 9-3-1.
Importantly, our position is equally independent and different to the preferred position determined by the A-League clubs and the PFA, which is 9-6-2. That is, 9 Member Federations, 6 for A-League clubs and 2 for the PFA (1 for professional men players and 1 for professional women players).
Quite distinctly, the Board of Football NSW has approached and considered this significant matter judiciously, rationally and independently in the best interests of football, both nationally and in NSW.
The underlying rationale for the position resolved by the Board of Football NSW is three-fold.
Firstly, Football NSW supports any model that encourages and delivers a governance and membership model with greater transparency and accountability, and broader stakeholder representation to include those stakeholders who demonstrate a professional, respectable, transparent and determined commitment and investment in the facilitation and development at all levels of football.
Additionally, the rationale for the position resolved has been considered against the expectations and constraints established and required by all stakeholders involved, including FIFA and the AFC.
Finally, the position resolved by the Board of Football NSW demonstrates an astute, mature and reasonable approach to delivering a compromise position that clearly brings about greater transparency and accountability, broader representation, that protects and develops football’s grassroots, and establishes cooperative and respectful relationships amongst all stakeholders for the first time. Ultimately, it also helps us achieve the necessary compliance expected from FIFA and the AFC.
Attached, you will find a decision-making matrix that the Board of Football NSW developed to help consider and rationalise its position. We hope that this document provides additional insight into the process we have undertaken to consider the situation, as well as demonstrate clear decision-making transparency to our members and stakeholders.
Coincidentally, and reassuringly, the Board of Football Federation Victoria (FFV) have also arrived and resolved their position to the same position resolved by Football NSW.
Moving Forward towards Resolution
We have come to understand, that FFA has recently sought the permission of FIFA and the AFC for an extension of the deadline date (previously being 31 March) for bringing the FFA Statutes in-line with FIFA and AFC requirements and expectations.
Although the Board of Football NSW is disappointed that we have not been able resolve the matter within the original timeline established, in the spirit of good faith, we have conformed to accept the request for extension in the hope that continued dialogue amongst the stakeholders, in the coming weeks and month, will help bring about quickly the necessary resolutions that help achieve a compliant and stronger governance framework for and within FFA.
We hope that the information provided herein provides you with a clear understanding of this significant issue and gives you comfort in the approach your Board has undertaken on behalf of its members and stakeholders.
On behalf of the Board of Football NSW,
Football NSW Chairman