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August 25, 2022

Johnson to remain Football Australia chief until 2024

The contract extension comes after a successful initial two-year tenure.

By Susan Lingeswaran

Football Australia, the country’s governing body for soccer, has extended the contract of its chief executive James Johnson for another two years after a successful initial tenure.

The league said the extension would allow Johnson, who joined in 2020, to continue to lead the work being undertaken with Football Australia’s 15-year vision for soccer in Australia outlined in the XI Principles For the Future of Australian Football launched just after his appointment.

Since joining the organization, Johnson has overseen some major developments at the organization, including the country’s successful bid for co-hosting rights for the FIFA 2023 Women’s World Cup along with New Zealand.

On the back of securing the rights, Football Australia launched its extensive legacy plan for the tournament, ‘Legacy23’, aimed at developing the sport for women and girls in the country.

Last month, Football Australia secured AUD230 million ($159 million) funding for the plan from the Australian government. It later announced it would be seeking further funding for the project from world governing body FIFA and the private sector.

Johnson also led Football Australia through a major transition as the country’s professional soccer leagues were separated from the organization at the start of last year, as well as the disruption of the industry during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Johnson said: “We have taken enormous steps forward as a sport over the last couple of years and I have been extremely proud of what we have achieved.

“Despite enduring one of its most challenging periods, our community has shown its resilience and continues to thrive. This new administration has remained focused and returned Football Australia to a strong financial position.

“The best of Australian for Australian football is ahead of us, and I am privileged and excited to be leading the game into the next phase.”

Johnson took over the role in January 2020 on a three-year contract, just two months before the Covid-19 pandemic hit the country. He succeeded long-serving David Gallop who announced he would leave the organization in the wake of the significant restructuring of Australian soccer.

He joined after serving as senior vice president of external affairs at City Football Group, which owns or has a stake in 11 clubs worldwide, including Melbourne City, of Australia’s A-League.

He previously held positions at the Asian Football Confederation, Australia’s professional soccer players union, and as a senior manager for member associations at FIFA.

At the time, one of Johnson’s initial tasks was to manage the new relationship between the A-League and Football Australia after it was agreed the two bodies would separate ahead of the 2019-20 season. That process was eventually delayed due to the Covid-10 pandemic but was finally completed last year.

The women's W-League and the Y-League, the national youth league, also split from Football Australia under a series of recommendations endorsed by the New Leagues Working Group (NLWG), a body mandated by FIFA.

Chris Nikou, Football Australia’s chair, said the board was unanimous in deciding to extend Johnson’s contract, adding: “We knew that he was a visionary and collaborative leader who brought a great understanding of the game from a global perspective and importantly a local one.

“Given the strong progress made under James’s leadership, it was vitally important to the board that we extend the contract so that we can continue the strong trajectory our game has taken under his leadership.”  

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