FFA respond to damning FIFA World Cup bid report


Football Federation Australia say they won't make the same mistakes again after a report detailed damning evidence behind Australia's failed 2022 World Cup bid.

A fortnight after Australia announced intent to bid for the women's 2023 World Cup, the report found evidence suggesting the nation made improper payments to influence the vote of a FIFA member.

The report by FIFA ethics investigator Michael Garcia scrutinises, in part, Australia's failed bid to host the 2022 World Cup.

Australia's $46 million bid got just one vote in support before the showpiece event was awarded to Qatar.

Individuals involved in the Australian bid won't face further fallout after Garcia probed Football Federation Australia's (FFA) dealings with Jack Warner, Trinidad and Tobago's FIFA executive member.

Warner was also president of the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF).

The FFA paid Trinidad and Tobago's team costs to play a friendly against an Australian under 20 team in Cyprus in 2009.

FFA, a year later, paid Warner $500,000 - funds meant for a sporting centre of excellence he allegedly stole after they were deposited in his personal bank account.

"Those points are strong evidence that FFA made improper payments intended to influence the vote of an executive committee member," Garica's report says.

"The record provides significant evidence that the $500,000 was paid with the intention of influencing Mr Warner's World Cup vote.

"Australia's bid team perceived the payment as a benefit for Mr Warner, as did Mr Warner himself."

The 430-page Garcia report on the awarding of the World Cup 2018 and 2022 hosting rights to Russia and Qatar, respectively, was published by FIFA on Wednesday.

An abbreviated version was released in 2015.

FFA said the full report "does not raise substantive new matters" about Australia's failed bid.

"FFA has said repeatedly that the bid process for 2018 and 2022 was deeply flawed and that mistakes were made by the Australian bid team," FFA said in a statement on Wednesday.

"However, FFA notes that FIFA continues to reform its governance, including relating to future tournament bids, and is confident mistakes of the past will not be repeated."

FFA said the bid's finances were routinely reported to the federal government and reviewed by external auditors.

"Its payment to CONCACAF was also investigated by the Australian Federal Police, which found that no Commonwealth offence was identified," the statement said.

The FFA did however, admit the report does contain new evidence in the form of "email correspondence provided to the inquiry by FFA."

In the emails Garcia finds Australia tried to “actively conceal” the role German lobbyist Fedor Radmann because of his close ties to FIFA executive member Franz Beckenbauer, who sat on the voting panel.

Radmann was hired as a consultant by the FFA along with former FIFA official Peter Hargitay.

Garcia states the evidence he uncovered, which included emails between officials who were part of Australia's bid team "suggest efforts by Australia 2022, its consultants, and Mr Beckenbauer to conceal certain key relationships".

In one email Hargitay wrote to FFA chairman Lowy and chief executive Buckley: “In order to maintain maximum confidentiality, I want to name our project ‘Road through Babylon’ and our two key contacts ‘F&F’."

The report deduces that "F&F" refers to Radmann and Beckenbauer, being the first initials of their names.

"In structuring its contract with Mr Radmann, Australia 2022 sought to create an appearance of distance between the bid team and Mr Beckenbauer's close associate," the report states.

"Subsequent devices employed by the bid team and its consultants were seemingly aimed at hiding ties with Mr Radmann while taking advantage of his influence over Mr. Beckenbauer to further the bid strategy."

Source AAP