Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) pays tribute to former Judge and Royal Commissioner Donald Stewart following his passing.

Mr Stewart was commissioned in 1994 by Soccer Australia to conduct an inquiry into Australian Football.

Tasked with examining the procedures and practices of the transfer system, which at the time tied players to clubs even at the conclusion of their contracts, the recommendations handed down by Stewart called for:


>> the abolishment of the transfer system; and

>> the immediate establishment of negotiations between the PFA and Soccer Australia to bring about changes to players’ employment conditions.


PFA Chief Executive John Didulica said Mr Stewart played a pivotal role in the history of the sport.

“The Stewart Inquiry was a key moment for the game and the players,” said Didulica. “It was critical to the reform of Australian football,” said Didulica.

“At the time of Mr Stewart’s report, players were subject to a system that denied them any basic rights as workers.

“The PFA’s success in advocating for the report was a critical step in establishing greater balance between the players and the clubs and overrode the fear many understandably had in coming forward to speak out against the transfer system.

“Importantly for the players, the Stewart Report established the path forward for the game’s first collective bargaining agreement.

“On behalf of all our members, past and present, I would like to thank Mr Stewart for his contribution to the game and express our condolences to his loved ones.”