SYDNEY: Ben Buckley, having hung on a remarkable 22 months after the 2022 World Cup bid humiliation, has finally been replaced as chief executive of Football Federation Australia writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Buckley took most of the blame after Australia, for all the ambition of billionaire chairman Frank Lowy, collected just one vote from among world federation FIFA’s executive committee after the scandal-hit bidding process; even that came ‘only’ from Franz Beckenbauer, a long-time associate of one of FFA’s consultants.
A government review followed into how the bid had managed to gain such a pitiful ‘reward’ for A$50m campaign. Buckley took much of the blame for the money spent on, and activities of, various European consultants.
Lowy promised, after the retreat from Zurich in December 2010, to renew the focus on the structure of the Australian domestic game but Buckley then found hismelf battling against one controversy after another, including Nathan Tinkler’s handing back his licence to run the Newcastle Jets and Clive Palmer’s attack on Lowy and Co over the dismissal from the A-League of his Gold Coast United.
It was shortly after the latter twist that Lowy and Buckley agree that the former North Melbourne AFL player should stand down in October this year after serving out a six-month notice period.
His successor will be David Gallop – long admired by Lowy – and who, by happy coincidence, had left the Australian Rugby League Commission last June ‘by mutual agreement.’
Lowy and Gallop and believed to have sealed the details of the deal at a meeting last month in the south of France several weeks ago and then again in London during the Olympic Games. Australian media reports have noted that Gallop was one of a select group of Lowy invitees to the official opening of the Westfield Shopping Centre which fronts the Olympic Park.
Now it is being claimed that Gallop had turned down Lowy six years ago after John O’Neill stepped down as FFA chief executive. Buckley, who had been was chief operations officer at the AFL, was thus second choice.
Gallop, like O’Neill and Buckley before him, comes to a key role at the head of the FFA with no previous soccer experience.
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