Australia probe failed bid

Date published: Thursday 4th June 2015 10:18

Officials from Australia spent around 40m Australian dollars attempting to win hosting rights for the 2022 event but received just one vote when Qatar secured the rights in December 2010.

Senator Nick Xenophon was among those who asked the Australian Federal Police to investigate the claims after Football Federation Australia (FFA) chairman Frank Lowy defended his group’s payment of Aus$500,000 to CONCACAF, an amount Lowy said was “misappropriated” by the federation’s then-president Jack Warner.

Warner was among 14 key football figures charged with corruption by US authorities last week.

However, Xenophon wants to go further and has called for FIFA to completely reimburse Australia for their failed bid due to what he labelled a ‘corrupt and tainted bidding process’.

Xenophon said: “It’s not just the Aus$500,000 payment. The Federal Police are obviously looking at that given the indictments against Jack Warner, who I understand has made an extraordinary statement in the last few hours saying ‘poor me’.

“I think what is more interesting is whether we can pursue the Aus$42.25m of Australian tax payers’ funds for the failed bid for the 2022 World Cup.

“FIFA has something like US$2bn in the bank; I think they could afford to fork back the money to Australia because Australia never stood a chance because of what we know now was a corrupt and tainted bidding process.”

Xenophon said Australia would enter into another bidding process for 2022 if Qatar was stripped of the tournament, but only if there were wholesale changes within FIFA.

He added: “I’d like to think that the game is up for Qatar. There needs to be another bid and I would like to think that, if the bidding process is going to be clear and transparent, that Australia would have a real chance of hosting 2022.

“We would be absolute mugs as taxpayers, as a government, if we participated in a bid unless there was wholesale reform of FIFA. But if the old cronies are in there, Sepp Blatter may have gone but his mates are still running the show, then we should keep well away from them.”

Xenophon believes there will be a senate inquiry into Australia’s failed bid and the issues surrounding it and he is convinced his country could take on a more prominent role in governance of the game in the future.

“I think it’s almost inevitable that there will be a senate inquiry looking into these issues,” he said.

“I think a Senate inquiry will give us some very good answers as to what went wrong, whether there were appropriate governance and probity provisions in terms of the Aus$42.25m of taxpayers’ funds that were spent for the failed bid.”

He added: “I think Australia can play a very key role in the region in terms of cleaning up the game. I think Australia can play a positive role.

“The fact that we were one of the minority of countries that voted against Sepp Blatter just a few days ago indicates that the time is right for Australia to play a leadership role in the region for this game.”

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