Lowy unfazed by dual A-League deadlines

Ben McKay

FFA chairman Steven Lowy says the governing body is doing enough to stave off major threats to the sport's prosperity.

The Australian football supremo spent the last week in Russia with the Socceroos, barracking for the national team and networking with the sport's bigwigs.

He's also selling the merits of staging the 2023 Women's World Cup in Australia after giving FFA's intention to bid earlier this month.

Amid the spruiking and barracking, Lowy would have been wise to update FIFA president Gianni Infantino on progress to democratise the FFA congress.

FIFA has issued deadlines to FFA to increase the number of seats at its highest-decision making body - which A-League clubs and the players' union wants to grow to amplify their voices.

It's an issue that desperately needs resolving - and like the vexed issue of financial distribution to clubs - has seen little movement.

Clubs walked out of the last formal meeting on the matter, in which FFA offered $3.25 million a year - up from $2.6 million - despite a major boost in broadcast rights that had A-League clubs set on more.

Speaking in Russia, Lowy said he believed a resolution was in the offing.

"I'm confident the congress process will be complete in the near future," he said in Russia.

"It's really critical. The game is ready for another transition. It had a major transformation in 2003/04.

"Now's the time to focus on the stability, sustainability and growth of the game.

"Dealing with issues like the congress and operating model of the A-League to attract more financial and human capital into the game are critical steps forward."

Clubs are more skeptical of a resolution, having seen little progress in firm commitments from FFA since their last formal negotiations.

On the 2023 Women's World Cup pledge, Lowy was comfortable with FFA putting in a bid for Australia to host the event.

This despite FFA stating in June 2015 that it would give "no consideration to bidding for any FIFA tournament" unless the world governing body overhauled its own structures.

With numerous reports of egregious FIFA spending, a lack of transparency and continued human rights breaches from upcoming World Cup hosts, has anything really changed at FIFA?

"We've seen many changes," Lowy insisted.

"FIFA is very different than the organisation that made the decision for the men's World Cup in 2010.

"The evidence that we've seen - particularly in the last year or so - is very promising with regards to a commitment to reforms and clarity of process and governance."

Lowy also foreshadowed Australian support to the USA-Canada-Mexico bid to host the men's 2026 World Cup.

"It feels like it would be a very compelling bid and I'm sure they'd do an outstanding job," he said.

"At the right time we will make a decision ... but we'd clearly show a lot of support."