Sydney - Australian football's long-time chairman Frank Lowy
stepped down Tuesday after helping reform the sport and grow its popularity
during 12 years at the helm.
The 85-year-old property and retail tycoon is considered the
godfather of the game in Australia, establishing the National Soccer League in
the 1970s before walking away disillusioned.
He was coaxed back to head up Football Federation Australia
in 2003 and under his watch the Socceroos qualified for three successive World
Cups in Germany, South Africa and Brazil.
Lowy also oversaw Australia's transition to the Asian
Football Confederation from Oceania and was a crucial figure behind establishing
the domestic A-League.
Also read: Lowy would welcome WC inquiry
He will also be remembered for the country's failed bid to
host the 2022 World Cup, winning just one vote from FIFA's 22 delegates after
spending Aus$45 million (US$32 million).
"How do I feel? Do I feel sad? Yes. Do I feel happy?
Maybe. Will I miss this job? Yes. Do I feel proud? Absolutely," said Lowy,
who is handing the reigns to his son Steven.
"No journey is perfect; we've had our shares of ups and
downs. But who can deny the progress we have made in football?
"Now is the right time for me to go. We are entering a
new phase of growth for the game and now is the time for new leadership."
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull hailed Lowy for
"instilling in Australians your love and passion for the game".
"From five-year-olds at the local park, professionals
in the stadiums and many of us watching on TV are in your debt," he said.For
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