FFA chairman Frank Lowy has dismissed nominating a rival FIFA president contender to avoid a confrontation with current candidate and Asian Federation president Mohamed bin Hammam.
Incumbent FIFA president Sepp Blatter and bin Hammam are still the only two candidates for the top job in football, after Chilean Elias Figueroa ruled himself out of the running with only 24 hours before the nomination deadline closes.
It was hoped that former player Figueroa might get the nomination he needed from any FA from around the world to stop a head-to-head battle between Blatter and bin Hammam – two long-term FIFA executives who have been accused of offering little fresh impetus to the heavily criticised FIFA regime.
“My understanding is Figueroa is not running as no nation’s FA has nominated him and now there is not enough time,” former FFA insider Bonita Mersiades told au.fourfourtwo.com. “I understand the football associations approached by ChangeFIFA have rejected it for one reason or another, and I can confirm the FFA was one of them.
“FFA Chairman [Frank Lowy] indicated to me that he hadn’t made up his mind who he would be supporting. The view was that why should Australia nominate someone not from Australia? That is a legitimate and pragmatic point-of-view as Australia is part of the Asian Football Confederation and their president is one of the candidates.
“It would have been a courageous decision to nominate a third candidate running on a reform agenda from Australia when your confederation’s president is already in the running.”
Mersiades said one of the reasons ChangeFIFA specifically approached both England and Australia was because they have both been on the wrong end of FIFA processes in recent times.
“Both were humiliated last year over the 2018/22 World Cup hosting votes,” said Mersiades. “Putting aside Australia’s final presentation, which was not up to standard, both countries had good bids and deserved more votes than they received.
"After they both declined ChangeFIFA’s invitation, I believe ChangeFIFA then approached a number of different countries."
She added: "It's not surprising, but very disappointing that no FA has sought to broaden the choices available by nominating a third candidate such as Elias Figueroa.
"The game's players and fans deserve better than what appears to many of us to be opaque decision making. It would have been terrific to have the opportunity afforded by a Figueroa nomination to give the game back to the people."
Elias Figueroa released a statement thanking the ChangeFIFA organisation for their support, but claimed that time restraints had impeded his progress.
“The knowledge of my selection was quite recent and the time-frame regarding the nomination process was insufficient, so I will respectfully and officially withdraw my name from being considered for nomination for the 2011 Presidential Elections of FIFA,” said Figueroa’s statement.
With the deadline for nomination so perilously close, fans are waking up to the realisation that the next leader of their sport is likely to be from within the traditional FIFA committee stock.