In light of Football Federation Australia’s support of Sheikh Salman’s AFC presidential election campaign, Craig Foster has offered a damning assessment of football governance in Australia.
Speaking on Evenings on FNR, the SBS Football Analyst and former Socceroos captain slammed FFA’s endorsement of the incumbent AFC President. Sheikh Salman not only failed to advocate for Hakeem al-Araibi’s release, but was allegedly involved in his initial arrest and torture at the hands of the Bahrain government.
“One of the reasons that Hakeem [al-Araibi] was in so much trouble was because sport and football was never going to do enough to get him out, and that was in large part because of Salman,” Foster said.
“To then turn around and support someone who is complicit in torture of athletes…
“It really is devastating, it’s devastating for everyone who was involved in the campaign, I think it’s devastating for football globally and it’s devastating for Australian football in particular.”
In the wake of months of turmoil within the FFA, involving restructures to the board and reforms to the Congress, Foster hit out at the current state of the game in the country.
“In my view, we really don’t have any values and we don’t have any culture,” Foster said.
“We lack the real foundation of what we’re about.
“People want to move on from the Lowy family and they want change, but I think a lot of it is change for change’s sake.
“If the participants in the game were able to vote, we’d have a very different board.”
After initially nominating for a position on the board and chairmanship of the FFA, Foster withdrew his name and watched on from afar, citing a lack of trust and credibility in the football hierarchy.
A lack of support shown for an FFA summit in Melbourne next week has seen an event in Melbourne cancelled as many others of its kind have brought disappointing audiences – evidence of the problems of the game, according to Foster.
“We will always be divided while people manage the game who lack the trust of us, and they lack the credibility of the football community,” Foster said.
“If people don’t want to listen to what they have to say, you have to question now the credibility.
“It’s kind of like some of the politicians, you listen to them talking in their interviews and you just think, ‘that’s not real’.
“The mass that play the game are not represented; it’s time for us to be represented in my view.”
Foster also backed Jack Riley’s proposal that the individual state federations have become redundant.
“The federated model has been a thorn in the side of not just football, but actually I’d argue Australia more broadly,” Foster said.
“There is absolutely no reason for us to have so many levels of politics through the game.
“To the extent that that politics is sustained and exists, I think personally we are never going to reach our potential.”
Foster admitted that a journey into politics could be a possibility into the future as he seeks true reform and betterment of football in Australia.