The world governing body has established its authority but we wait to see if Fifa 2.0 really exists

We still do not know how Australian football's civil war will end, but we now know Fifa will orchestrate its conclusion. "Fifa will now decide on the terms of reference for the congress review working group, including its composition, mandate and timelines," explained Football Federation Australia's press release on Thursday, marking the conclusion of three days of talks in Sydney featuring Fifa, the Asian Football Confederation, FFA and an ensemble cast of the local game's stakeholders. "A decision is expected from Fifa within two to three weeks "

Fifa has occupied a background role in this affair, offering FFA stays of execution in March and November 2017 following the prolonged failure to adequately democratise Australian football's governance arrangements. Fifa and AFC delegates arrived in Australia this week determined to break the impasse.

Now they have established their authority they have to act upon it.

The A-League clubs rammed home this point during a coruscating presentation on Wednesday with grievance after specific grievance attached directly to a Fifa statute. They did following a preamble that tied the present situation to Fifa's own historic embarrassments, reminding the delegates they have been directly involved in this saga for two long years now, and ending with a challenge that cuts to the heart of Gianni Infantino's regime. "The guiding principles for the Fifa 2.0 vision are transparency, accountability, inclusivity and cooperation. We believe that these should be the guiding principles of the CRWG and the recommendations it makes. "

The footballing world is watching Fifa's behavior in cases like Australia's to see if Fifa 2.0 exists in reality or only in rhetoric. The five pages of pointed challenges to FFA's continued stewardship of the local game demand a response. Punctuating each with one of Fifa's own regulations ensures there is little wiggle room for either governing body.

It was not just the A-League clubs who achieved their objectives during a fascinating few days.

The Association of Australian Football Clubs, the body representing sides in the National Premier League, is barely 11 months old but is now a bona fide stakeholder at the top table. Fifa's insistence on AAFC participation in talks speaks to the desire for Australia to bring its professional tier in line with the majority of the rest of the world and move away from a closed franchise model. On top of this, AAFC have also managed to get the ball rolling on the ground, engaging with FFA and member federations to convene a working group to explore the establishment of a second tier. The agenda for Wednesday's meeting was FFA and AAFC co-branded.

The mobilization of delegates representing fans, referees, coaches and women's football was proof (if any were needed) of the untapped skills and energy the status quo has excluded. As each stated their case and shared their press release there was a performative, almost therapeutic Fifa, the Grand Poobah, listening to voices determined to have their say, currently represented in the running of football by nine near-anonymous state federation chairs and one tenth of the A-league.

From the outset this congress expansion project should never have been viewed in binary terms as FFA vs A-League owners. It reflects poorly on Steven Lowy that he propagated that agenda as FFA chairman when the goal from the outset should always have been about establishing the best possible outcome for the Australian game, one underscored by democracy and gender equity. After a circuitous route full of ugly asides we appear to be approaching that point.

There is no guarantee of smooth sailing of course. Lobbying in Zurich will be intense in the coming days, as it will the in weeks after the working group is implemented and all the way to the defining EGM, whenever that is. for a resolution as soon as June although the small matter of that month's World Cup makes such a timeline seem optimistic.

What we should now be able to expect with confidence is the process the game deserved years ago; one all all relevant individuals collectively establish the optimum model to advance the cause of football in Australia. No longer should have to tolerate Heath Robinson solutions that miraculously end with one 60% power bloc or be forced to base our expectations on foundations that were flawed to begin with.

Football in Australia is crying out to move on from this miserable chapter and take advantage of the benefits congress reform can offer. Fifa has taken the initiative, now it needs to see the job through.

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