Peace in our time or merely a pause in hostilities - FIFA will have the final say

It's all about spin.

If you believe the FFA, everything is (almost) fine.

The scrabbling parties in the bitterly contested Congress war will all magically sit down under the guidance of FIFA early next year, hold hands and sing "kumbaya" as they craft a shared vision for the future of the game in this country.

That is the view through the rose tinted glasses that are now the most fashionable item at FFA headquarters as the Steven Lowy led FFA board tries to convince the world at large, and FIFA in particular, that there is nothing really to see here - that with just a little more jaw, jaw, then war, war can be avoided.

Go to the other corner and the view is rather different for the A-League clubs (Lowy's chief opponents).

Although they have been fully supported by the players' union, the PFA, and two key state federations from New South Wales and Victoria, the ruling from FIFA that further talks will take place is all about politics and process rather than a definitive sign of support for the current administration.

In their view, this is merely a blip on the way to the removal of the Lowy administration, a FIFA road map designed to circumnavigate the rutted pathways of the Australian soccer landscape.

It is a talkfest designed to ensure the process of recasting the game can avoid being bogged forever in the minutiae of Australian corporate law and legal challenges from the cashed-up and determined chairman of the current board.

To be fair, for Lowy not to have been turfed out of office yet after losing the crucial congress vote last week is a triumph.

Many others might have felt such a defeat made resignation inevitable: after all, he effectively lost a vote of confidence in his chairmanship when his proposal for a narrow extension of the voting franchise in congress was defeated.

But the scion of the Lowy dynasty does not take defeat kindly and made it clear afterwards that he was prepared to fight tooth and nail to preserve his position, with some observers predicting that shifting the terrain into the sphere of corporate law would make FIFA think twice about pushing as firmly as it might have.

The expectation was that FIFA would put in place a normalisation committee, effective immediately, sweep away Lowy and his supporters on the board, and begin the process of remaking the Australian soccer body politic.

The fact that it hasn't is something of a surprise, but it doesn't mean he will survive long term, despite the optimistic tone of the FFA statement which, not surprisingly, couches the decision in the best possible light for the FFA.

In some ways this decision from Zurich can be seen as the normalisation committee you have when you are not having a normalisation committee.

Australia's case is rather different to the others in which FIFA have previously used the normalisation sanction: there is not overt political interference in the game here, nor is there evidence of the egregious corruption, match fixing or several other rorts that have occurred in other jurisdictions in the FIFA world.

The big argument is about gerrymandering, and the way in which the current congress voting system is lopsided and loaded in favour of the chairman and the board.

While the FFA on Thursday morning sought to suggest that it will be a key driver of the negotiations, the opposite seems to be the case.

The FIFA letter, which has been made widely available, makes clear that they and the Asian Football Confederation - not Lowy, not the FFA, not the clubs and no-one else - is driving the process.

Interestingly, it doesn't even name the FFA as one of the stakeholders it wants to meet with, referring by name instead to the member federations, A-League clubs, PFA and "any other relevant interlocutors, such as the Association of Australian Football Clubs (AAFC)", that might have an interest. The latter is the group representing the National Premier League teams who are agitating for a second division and promotion and relegation to be introduced.

But to suggest, as some of the opponents have, that the FFA will not be part of the final negotiations is drawing a very long bow.

Its smart politicking by FIFA to force the warring parties to take reponsibility

It sounds very much like the game's governing body is coming here to knock heads together, give everyone a last chance to have their say, and then impose a solution on a take it or leave it basis.

Its smart politicking by FIFA to force the warring parties to take reponsibility for their actions with a third party acting as the referee even if at this point it is hard to see how there can be a meeting of the minds given the enmity and bitterness overflowing from the battle.

Unless FIFA can broker a peace deal, then the grandees from Zurich will have to decide.

There will be plenty more jaw, jaw. But there is so far no end in sight to the war, war.

This story Peace in our time or merely a pause in hostilities - FIFA will have the final say first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.