Final ‘XI Principles’ document to guide Australian football’s transformation

Football Federation Australia (FFA) today released the second and final iteration of the ‘XI Principles for the future of Australian football’ (XI Principles) document following a rigorous and collaborative period of consultation with the national football family.

The XI Principles will provide guidance and influence decision making at FFA, with the focus of FFA to commence – and in several cases continue – operationalising the proposed measures over the short, medium, and long-term.

FFA released the first version of the XI Principles on 2 July 2020, and precisely three (3) months on has issued an updated edition. The updated XI Principles document is the result of 24 direct consultations with various stakeholder groups, including congress members, special interest groups, and Sport Australia, with each providing a unique perspective into the current state of the game in Australia.

FFA Chief Executive Officer, James Johnson, explained that the consultations – which were complemented by a series of online surveys that yielded over 3,100 responses from a wide cross-section of Australia’s large and diverse football community – gathered several key insights.

“The first version of the XI Principles discussion paper was designed to lead us on a path of further contemplation and discovery in partnership with key stakeholders, special interest groups, and the broader football community, so that we could learn more about the challenges facing the game and the aspirations of those connected with our sport,” Johnson said.


“Positively, we learned that there is strong support for the XI Principles and the need for a clear direction in Australian football, however there were also many recommendations regarding how and why the document and specific principles could be enhanced.

“We’ve worked over several weeks to integrate feedback into the document, with some Principles (III, IV, and VI) having been amended by title and description to reflect overarching consensus. Additionally, several proposed measures have been added or refined in many principles as we’ve sought to add to the agenda the objectives of our stakeholders.

“In addition to the overarching support for the document, two key themes that emerged from the consultation process were the need for FFA to create closer and more direct links to its community and a more connected game, as well as the desire for FFA to lead transformation in Australian football governance via a ‘One (1) Football’ framework. These two points are central to uniting the game and will be given focus by our Board, Management, and Staff as we continue to put the XI Principles into practice,” he said.


Pleasingly, FFA has either delivered on or commenced enacting numerous proposed measures and interconnected initiatives since the first version of the XI Principles was released in July 2020. These include:

  • Reaching agreement on a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Football Coaches Australia (FCA);
  • Advancing plans for a National ‘Home of Football’ in Sydney and supporting Football Victoria to secure funding towards the ‘Home of the Matildas’ project at La Trobe University in Victoria;
  • Securing hosting rights for two (2) AFC youth women’s qualification tournaments in regional Australia (Cessnock and Shepparton);
  • Advancing internal and external discussions regarding aligning the national football calendar and the evolution of the National Premier Leagues (NPL);
  • Appointing Trevor Morgan (National Technical Director), Ron Smith (Technical Advisor), and Rae Dower (Women’s Technical Advisor) to key technical positions;
  • Appointing Jane Fernandez as FFA’s Head of FIFA Women’s World Cup Office and Peter Filopoulos as FFA’s Head of Marketing, Corporate Affairs and Communications;
  • Advancing the unbundling of the professional leagues as APFCA assume more control over professional league operational matters such as the negotiation of the Leagues CBA and its commercial rights sales;
  • Finalising a new National Teams CBA2 which maintains gender equality principles;
  • On 29 September 2020, FFA announced that it had appointed highly experienced coach, Tony Gustavsson, as the new Head Coach of the Westfield Matildas for a four-year term which will include four major tournaments - the Tokyo (2021) and Paris (2024) Olympic Games, as well as the AFC Women’s Asian Cup India 2022 and the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia/New Zealand 2023™.  A two-time FIFA Women’s World Cup™ winner and Olympic Gold Medallist with the US women’s national team, Gustavsson brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the role;
  • Entering into new commercial agreements for the Westfield Matildas; and;
  • Making progress internally on the development of a White Paper into the domestic transfer system to implement the recommendation of the Starting XI made in June 2020.

Johnson added: “We believe we have made some significant strides for the game since the first iteration of the XI Principles was released in July, but the transformation of Australian football has only just begun. The XI Principles takes a holistic view of Australian football and the challenges facing it and will replace the Whole of Football Plan published in 2015. The XI Principles will guide us strategically and operationally as we look to fulfil the bold and innovative 15-year vision that remains from the first edition.”

FFA will now, in consultation and collaboration with the game’s stakeholders, continue the process of operationalising the XI Principles. The XI Principles will provide the impetus to crystalise ongoing matters and drive a fresh and exciting agenda. This will include developing a unified direction for the game which will speak to the ‘Who’, ‘When’ and the ‘How’. 

The final version of the XI Principles for the future of Australian football can be accessed here.