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FIFA boss to visit Australia next month

AAP logoAAP 16/11/2016 Neil Harvey

Australia's frustrated football stakeholders could get an audience with FIFA president Gianni Infantino to air their grievances next month.

Infantino, will make his first trip to Australia since his election as football's top official in February this year, spending December 5 in Sydney.

The Swiss-Italian is visiting Australia after receiving a personal invitation from FFA chief Steven Lowy.

An expected itinerary, released by Football Federation Australia on Wednesday, included time to meet with local officials to allow Infantino "to share his vision for the game with the breadth of the Australian football community".

It's unclear if they will be able to bring their concerns to Infantino.

A-League clubs have argued behind closed doors with FFA for an independent governance body for the league, or for increased representation on the FFA board.

The 10 clubs were part of an agitation that saw FIFA officials visit Australia in September, querying governance structures at FFA.

Partially in response to those meetings, FFA is currently considering constitutional change that would re-draw the power dynamics in Australian football.

Whether Infantino's visit will play a part in shaping these debates remains to be seen.

While in Australia, Infantino will also participate in a "Football Diplomacy Roundtable" at the Lowy Institute for International Policy, and is expected to meet with Federal Government officials.

Australia supported Jordanian candidate Prince Ali bin Al-Hussein in February's FIFA presidential election but was not unhappy with the election of Infantino, given his pledge to reform the scandal-plagued organisation.

However, little reforming of the Zurich-based body appears to have taken place since his election.

Instead, he has been labelled as "addicted" to private jets, was named in the Panama Papers which alleged financial misdoing, and was accused of backing down on pledges to make FIFA more transparent by Prince Ali.

Infantino is sandwiching the trip to Australia in between two other engagements in the region.

He will attend the final of the under-20 Women's World Cup in Papua New Guinea on December 3, before heading to a football summit in Singapore - alongside FFA officials - after his Sydney visit.

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