Australian soccer in limbo as we await word from FIFA

Australian soccer remains in limbo as the embattled FFA chairman Steven Lowy and his board await word from FIFA as to their fate following the loss of a crucial vote at the annual general meeting last week.

The A-League clubs, who are his chief opponents, are more determined than ever to create the conditions for an independent A-League, where they could capture more of the revenues generated by the competition to underwrite what have largely been loss-making investments for the past decade.

From their point of view, FIFA appointing a "normalisation committee" - an independent group of outsiders who would run the game in place of Lowy and his board, who would be sacked - is the policy most likely to deliver them their preferred outcome. For them, the sooner the FIFA decision makers act, the better.

But at no stage has Lowy indicated that he will surrender easily.

It is in his interests to convince FIFA that he and the board are still reaching out to the dissident factions to try to reach a consensus over the issues that divide them - even if the clubs show little sign of wanting to work with him in the future.

It is understood that earlier this week, despite the effective vote of no confidence last Thursday, Lowy wrote to the clubs seeking to re-open discussions on the new operating model for the A-League.

This was a concept that the FFA board and its chairman had floated earlier this year before relations between he and the clubs broke down so badly.

On the surface this looks like an olive branch, but the anti-Lowy brigade see it as an exercise designed merely to convince FIFA that he is still working hard and should therefore be allowed more time.

This is a difficult case for the game's governing body. It was they who earlier in the year gave the FFA board a deadline of November 30 to sort out the problems associated with the Congress.

The board has failed to do that - in fact, for years now the board has failed to comply with FIFA's demands that it broaden the representative base of its Congress, while it has also ignored the recommendations of previous federal government-sanctioned reports to set up an independent A-League.

Now FIFA must decide whether to use the broadsword of the normalisation committee, which would pave the way for a clean slate, or the rapier of some other approach to try and find a solution that could involve all parties but simultaneously end the increasingly bitter enmity.

Trying to square the circle might be an easier task given the breakdown in relations and the bad blood that now exists.

This story Australian soccer in limbo as we await word from FIFA first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.