Australia’s World Cup bid laced with secret millions – report

2010-06-30 08:18

Australian football officials agreed to secret, multimillion-dollar

lobbyist fees, gifted jewellery and free travel in a bid to win hosting rights

for an upcoming World Cup, according to a report.

An exclusive report by Fairfax newspapers cited private Football

Federation Australia files of detailed A$11.37 million in payments to two

consultants – a quarter of the total bid budget.

It also listed gifts of pearl necklaces for the wives of Fifa

executive committee members, who will decide in December which countries will

host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

The Football Federation Australia also handed out pearl cuff links,

offered a free trip to Australia to a committee member for his birthday and paid

for a football team linked to Fifa vice-president Jack Warner to visit Cyprus

last year, the report said.

It added that the huge payments to the consultants – who have

boasted of close ties to Warner, Fifa president Sepp Blatter and the influential

Franz Beckenbauer – were seen in a separate file not intended for government

scrutiny.

Sports Minister Kate Ellis promised to investigate the

allegations.

“Obviously the way the Football Federation Australia spends

government money is subject to the usual reporting and scrutiny requirements,”

she said through a spokesperson.

“Any evidence to the contrary will be thoroughly investigated by

the government, as would any alleged breach of the funding agreement.”

Australia has emerged as a leading contender to host the 2022 World

Cup after pulling out of the running for 2018.

It initially filed a bid to host either event.

The documents, dated mid-2009, also suggested that the government

was not given details of plans to give A$6.5 million in grants to football

bodies in Africa, Asia and Oceania, the report said.

The Football Federation Australia strongly defended its conduct of

the bid, stressing it was “common practice” to hand “symbolic gifts” to visiting

delegations.

“The Football Federation Australia is completely transparent in its

dealings with government and has provided all information regarding the bidding

process requested by government,” chief executive Ben Buckley told

Fairfax.

The report added that one of the consultants had been implicated in

a scheme to allegedly offer financial inducements to Fifa members to back

Germany’s hosting of the 2006 World Cup.

The other was allegedly linked to a securities fraud in Hungary, it

said.


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