The powerful boss of Australian football, billionaire Franck Lowy bowed on Tuesday at the age of 85 after 12 years at the head of the Australian Federation (FFA), during which he largely contributed to the promotion of his sport.
The one who was once the country’s first fortune is also considered one of the “fathers” of Australian football for having created in the 1970s the National soccer league (NSL), which in 2005 became the current A-League which brings together nine Australian clubs. and a New Zealand team.
The businessman was recalled in 2003 at the head of the Federation and under his presidency, the “Socceroos” have not missed any World Cup finals.
It was also during his reign that Australia left Oceania for the Asian Confederation (AFC) in 2006 and this year won its first Asian Cup.
His presidency will also be marked by the dismal failure of Australia’s candidacy for the organization of the 2022 World Cup. Australia had won only one of the 22 votes after spending 45 million Australian dollars (29 million euros ).
“Do I feel sad? Yes. Am I happy? Perhaps. Will I miss the job? Yes. Am i proud Absolutely! ” said Mr. Lowy, who will be replaced by his son Steven.
“No trip is linear. We have had our fair share of ups and downs. But who can deny that we have made football progress? ”
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull paid tribute to the outgoing President who “instilled in Australians (his) love and (his) passion for this sport”.
“The five-year-olds in the parks, the professionals in the stadiums and all of us who watch the matches on television owe you a lot!”
Frank Lowy, who made his fortune at the head of Australian shopping center giant Westfield Group, is third in the 2015 ranking of the richest Australians according to Forbes magazine, with five billion Australian dollars.
Born in 1930 in the former Czechoslovakia, Mr. Lowy, whose father died in deportation to Auschwitz, spent part of the Second World War in Hungary, living in particular with his mother in the Budapest Ghetto.
He emigrated to the Liberation via France to the former British Mandate of Palestine, where he fought within the Haganah, the underground army of the Jews of Palestine, then within the Israeli army.
He left Israel for Australia in 1952.