Thursday, November 09, 2006

Football Federation Australia selects new CEO

Football Federation Australia has selected an administrator from another sport to replace retiring John O'Neill as CEO. FFA Chairman Frank Lowy went outside the world game to select the rival Australian Football League's No.2 executive, Ben Buckley. Lowy described 39-year-old Buckley, a former North Melbourne Kangeroos FC [Australian Rules] player, as "the best of the new generation of Australian sporting administrators". Buckley, the AFL's chief operations officer - will move to Sydney to take up his four-year deal next month. O'Neill, who had been due to finish his FFA contract on 7 March, declined to comment on this week's turn of events late yesterday, saying it would not be "appropriate".

Lowy's choice of chief executive, after a worldwide search he described as "rigorous", confirms his poor opinion of football administrators in Australia, the Sydney Morning Herald commented. "Sports administrators are sports administrators," said Lowy. "There are not too many football administrators we could interview. There were one or two but they could not fit the bill. If you look at the game for the last 30 or 40 years, football didn't exactly grow administrators. There were a lot of officials but there were no administrators. To have success for the game, you need good administrators, and had it not been Ben, we would have gone overseas. It's not a good certificate for football that we don't have these people around, but if you look at what football was, it's no surprise."

Speaking at a Sydney media conference, Buckley described his new role as a "great honour" and said that the AFL , "a tremendous organisation" and "a very well managed, well governed sport" had "sat up and taken notice of the achievements football has made in this country. They've certainly got an eye towards the competition."

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