Professional Footballers Australia has announced that President John Didulica is set to depart the organisation at the conclusion of his current contract on July 1.
A North Geelong Warriors – where he now serves as club President – junior and NSL representative of Sydney United and Melbourne Knights, Didulica arrived at the PFA in 2016, recruited after a six-year stint as a Director of Football and counsel at Melbourne Heart/Melbourne City.
“It is an incredible honour to work in football and to serve footballers as Chief Executive of the PFA, but everybody who works in the sport knows how all-consuming it is," Didulica said.
"After so many consecutive years involved, I really want to step back and spend more time with my wonderful wife and daughters.
“I am so proud of the work the PFA has done in recent years and, more recently, the institutional strength we demonstrated to preserve our entire staff to service players during the unprecedented professional and wellbeing challenges presented by COVID-19.
“We have built a great team and I have no doubt they will continue to steward the business to ensure we continue supporting the players and building the game.”
Didulica became one of the most powerful figures in the Australian game during his four-year stint at the helm of the PFA, with his absence likely to present a major challenge to the organisation ahead of what will likely be intense negotiations as Australian football looks to adjust its structure and cost base to fit the contracted post-COVID-19 landscape.
Though the 2019/20 season's CBA between clubs and players was extended with added health provisos in the wake of COVID-19, a new agreement will need to be negotiated following the conclusion of the 2019/20 season.
With the union and a number of clubs repeatedly butting heads during the A-League's suspension, talks are expected to be challenging.
“JD came into the role of Chief Executive four years ago when the PFA was going through a difficult time,” PFA President and Sydney FC defender Alex Wilkinson said.
“He galvanized the players and staff and pushed the organisation to new heights. During his time with the PFA, JD [Didulica] proved he is not only a great football administrator but more importantly he is a great person who always put the players before anything else.
“Although he will be missed, we wish him well in whatever the next chapter brings. On behalf of the Executive we want to thank him for his immense contribution not only to the PFA but to football in Australia.”
One of Didulica's most notable achievements as Chief Executive of the union arrived in 2019, when he was involved in negotiations that led to a landmark National Teams Collective Bargaining Agreement between national team players and the FFA, which closed the pay gap between the Socceroos and Matildas.
This followed on from A- and W-League CBA's that amongst other things saw the codification of parity in the minimum remuneration hourly rate between A-League and W-League players.
“The work that JD has achieved and his vision for equality within the game in Australia between men and women has not only been realised through the National Teams Collective Bargaining Agreement last year, but also through the announcement of the 2023 Women’s World Cup,” PFA Executive member and Matildas goalkeeper said.
“The players appreciate wholeheartedly his work within the PFA and he will be dearly missed.”
The PFA’s leadership team is set to meet this evening to begin the process of determining Didulica's replacement, with a recruitment process potentially beginning in the coming weeks.
Former Matildas' star Kate Gill is the current PFA Deputy Chief Executive.