Peter Filopoulos: There are opportunities in times of crisis

Speaking with Soccerscene, Football Victoria CEO Peter Filopoulos claims the current period presents the game with challenges but also opportunities for the future.

Filopoulos, a highly experienced administrator across a variety of sports, believes nothing in his career compares to the impact the COVID-19 pandemic is currently having.

“This is the biggest disruption that’s faced sport, not just football,” he said.

“In my time of 30 years in sports administration, I’ve never seen anything like it before.

“But I also see this crisis as an opportunity for football to position itself at the backend of this.

“To be able to build a platform for us to change the way we do business and the way we do things, that’s what I’m looking forward to.”

In unprecedented times, Filopoulos said the organisation, alongside collaborative efforts with the FFA, are filling the void for football participants through alternative means.

Initiatives which focus on the mental and physical wellbeing of the footballing community have been implemented in recent weeks.

“We’ve been driving some digital content, which is fantastic,” he said.

“We’ve introduced the #LiveLoveFootball at home campaign.This is a series of skills, videos, activities, quizzes, podcasts, throwbacks, classic moments and more.

“We’ve also got Skills Hub through FFA, that helps the grassroots football community stay active and connected through this time.

“FFA recently launched this online skills hub developed in association with all of us federations, with the #PlayAtHomeChallenge.”

With all football activity suspended until May 31 at the very least, Football Victoria has been in constant contact with local councils, in regards to supporting grassroots football clubs in the state.

According to Filopoulos, around ten councils have already provided rent relief for clubs during this period, with hopefully more to come.

“We are working with the rest of them,” he said.

“We’ve written to them and we’re speaking to them to help support our football clubs in the time of need.

“Not only on the rent relief, but also to try and access facilities post the winter season, for when we resume football activity and (most likely) encroach on the spring season.”

The state governing body has been in consistent dialogue with all levels of government on a number of fronts, including financial assistance.

The organisation recently sent all of its member federation clubs a government assistance overview for the current COVID-19 pandemic.

The Football Victoria CEO explained he is also working with other sports in a bid to garner support from government.

“We’ve all got the common challenge and the common problems,” he said.

“So, we are working as a conglomerate to lobby government.

“Government’s going to be looking towards us for social economic recovery in the backend, we need to be in a financial position to have the capability to do it, so we need the support.”

With recent suggestions a possible rebuild of the game could be close, Filopoulos believes a national second division and connected football pyramid will be a reality in the near future.

“That’s something Football Victoria are very big advocates of. (We are) working with FFA closely to try and deliver that sooner, rather than later.

“I think we’ve got a very supportive CEO and Chair at FFA, it’s a matter of now putting those plans in motion.

“I’d like to think that we can accelerate that strategy at some point, once we are out of this crisis.”

A key to that strategy in a prospective national second division is the involvement of broadcast partners, with Football Victoria having already begun talks about their own product to streaming services such as Optus Sport and Kayo Sports.

“(Discussions) are still progressing, but given that we’ve got no content really to upload or share at the moment it’s gone a little bit on the backburner, hopefully we can resume these discussions at some point.”

For now, however, planning continues behind the scenes at Football Victoria for when football does return.

“In terms of when we get back, we are looking at a number of scenarios at the moment,” Filopoulos said.

“Depending on when we can start, we believe we will be able to complete certain competitions.”

One thing’s for sure, football will bounce back.

Philip Panas is a sports journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy and industry matters, drawing on his knowledge and passion of the game.

Football West to welcome Jamie Harnwell as new CEO

Football West has announced the appointment of Jamie Harnwell as the new Chief Executive Officer of the organisation.

Football West has announced the appointment of Jamie Harnwell as the new Chief Executive Officer of the organisation.

Harnwell will succeed outgoing CEO James Curtis, who is stepping down after spending almost six years in the role.

Harnwell has been involved with Football West for over 12 years, with his most recent position being Chief Football Officer. Prior to that, he had worked as Acting Chief Operating Officer and Head of Development.

Before joining Football West, Harnwell was the captain of A-Leagues club Perth Glory, as well as the record-appearance holder He made 256 appearances for the Glory men’s squad, where in the process he was involved in back-to-back national championships.

Football West Chairman Sherif Andrawes:

“Football West is delighted to announce Jamie Harnwell as our new CEO,” he said.

“Jamie is a real football person, from his days as a star player at Perth Glory to becoming a top coach in both the A-League Women’s and NPLWA – Men’s competitions. He has transferred the drive and dedication needed to succeed on the pitch to his roles at Football West.

“In addition, Jamie also possesses the necessary skills and vision to drive Football West forward as we continue to grow the sport in WA and we move towards the opening of the State Football Centre and the 2023 Women’s World Cup and beyond.

“Jamie has worked closely with James Curtis for a number of years, and in terms of senior management, it is great that he has been able to ‘learn on the job’ and is well placed to lead the team at Football West over what will be an exciting period for our sport in WA.

“Following an extensive nationwide search and the assessment of several excellent candidates, Jamie proved to be the stand-out. We look forward to him leading Football West in the years ahead and continuing the terrific progress achieved under James Curtis.”

Incoming Football West Chief Executive Officer Jamie Harnwell:

“It is exciting to become CEO of Football West and I’m looking forward to the challenge,” he said.

“We are the biggest team sport in the country in terms of participation and we are in a fantastic position. But there is still plenty of potential for further growth, especially here in WA.

“It has been terrific to work with James Curtis and gain invaluable experience, now I am ready to put my own stamp on the position.”

Harnwell will work together with Curtis until the latter departs from Football West on March 31, 2022.

Economic returns predicted for biennial FIFA World Cup

biennial FIFA World Cup

Two independent studies have suggested that FIFA’s economic situation would be dramatically improved if both men’s and women’s FIFA World Cups switch to a biennial format.

The findings, from Nielsen and OpenEconomics, were presented in front of 207 of a possible 210 of FIFA’s member associations (MAs). The presentation took place at the FIFA Global Summit and was staged as the ‘latest step in the future of football’.

FIFA President, Gianni Infantino:

“We have been advised by independent experts that a switch to a biennial FIFA World Cup would provide a combined additional USD 4.4 billion in revenue from the first four-year cycle, with these funds being distributed across our 211 member associations,” he said.

“This additional revenue would allow solidarity funding to move from the current level of USD 6 million per cycle to up to potentially USD 25 million on average per FIFA member association in the first four-year cycle, with the actual distribution being subject to FIFA’s governance principles.”

Based on the findings, the following economic boosts would occur:

  • A USD 3.5 billion (4.9 billion AUD) solidarity fund would be established with revenues to be distributed to all MAs, to inject an average of up to USD 16 million (22 million AUD) to every MA, while also retaining a capacity to mitigate against any financial shortfalls suffered by any MA due to the international match calendar changes.
  • FIFA’s Forward distribution for every MA would increase by 50% to USD 9 million (12 million AUD) per cycle.

  • The overall uplift for world football would be in the region of USD 6.6 billion (9.1 billion AUD) in the first four-year cycle.
  • A biennial cycle for the men’s World Cup would produce a gross domestic product (GDP) gain of more than USD 180 billion (249 billion AUD) over a 16-year period, while generating two million full-time jobs.

FIFA Chief of Global Football Development, Arsene Wenger:

“FIFA’s commitment to the future of football remains resolute, as we want to give every talent a chance, and to create the right environment to deliver on that promise through our competitions,” he said.

“We want to reorganise the international match calendar, especially to promote and improve football, while respecting all stakeholders – and that begins with the players themselves, by introducing a mandatory rest period.”

As part of his plan, national-team fixtures would be grouped together under a new international match calendar, leading to less travel for the players.

FIFA is planning for more consultations with confederations and MA’s early this year, with the opportunity to explore the idea in further depth.

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