FA chief not surprised by Blatter fix relevation

Date published: Thursday 29th October 2015 8:46

FIFA: Seeking to reclaim tens of millions of dollars

FA chairman Greg Dyke said it would be “very nice” if England could get back the money spent on their futile bid to host the 2018 World Cup.

The FA spent £21million on England’s failed bid for the 2018 tournament, including £2.5million of public money from local authorities, but suspended FIFA president Sepp Blatter told Russian news agency TASS that the tournament was always lined up to go to Russia with the 2022 World Cup to be held in the USA – until UEFA president Michel Platini decided to throw his weight behind Qatar.

Dyke, giving evidence to the culture, media and sport committee, said: “We will look into detail at what Mr Blatter says. There’s nothing Mr Blatter says that surprises me much. If he is saying ‘we wanted Russia’ and it looks like he wanted that fixed before the vote, it’s suggesting that it was all fixed anyway.”

Asked if the FA would look to reclaim the bid costs, Dyke replied: “We will obviously go back and look at it. I think it would be a good idea. But get the bid costs back from whom? From FIFA?

“I agree it would be very nice to get taxpayers’ money back.”

Dyke said after the hearing: “We will go back and ask questions about what Blatter has said today. We will ask some questions about what Mr Blatter has said and talk to our own lawyers, but this is uncharted territory.”

Blatter did not expand on who exactly had “agreed” for Russia to be hosts, but claimed the crisis in FIFA had been prompted by England and the USA being “bad losers” as a result of their World Cup bid failures.

Blatter told TASS: “In 2010 we had a discussion of the World Cup and then we went to a double decision. For the World Cups it was agreed that we go to Russia because it’s never been in Russia, eastern Europe, and for 2022 we go back to America. And so we will have the World Cup in the two biggest political powers.

“And everything was good until the moment when [French president Nicolas] Sarkozy came in. In a meeting with the crown prince of Qatar, who is now the ruler of Qatar, and at a lunch afterwards with Mr Platini he said it would be good to go to Qatar. And this has changed the whole pattern.

“If the USA was given the World Cup, we would only speak about the wonderful World Cup 2018 in Russia and we would not speak about any problems at FIFA.”

Blatter, who is facing criminal proceedings in relation to a £1.3million payment made to Platini in 2011 and over TV rights deals sold to Jack Warner, said there was “no possibility” that Russia would lose the World Cup.

Even if that were to happen, Dyke told the committee there was no planning document in existence for England to step in at short notice.

Dyke was also quizzed by MPs over the FA’s backing for Platini before the Frenchman was provisionally banned pending an ethics committee hearing into the £1.3million payment for work carried out at least nine years previously.

The FA chairman confirmed the decision to suspend support for the Frenchman came after it emerged there was no written contract existed for the payment. He also said he thought it was “unlikely” that Platini would be able to proceed with a bid for the FIFA presidency.

He said: “That there was no contract, or a verbal contract 10 years later seems to me unrealistic. We were told initially there was a contract, we then discovered at that UEFA meeting there was no [written] contract.”

Dyke also pointed the finger at FIFA’s auditors KPMG.

He said: “Where has KPMG been for all these years? Quite big sums of money do not appear to have been accounted for. How do you account for suddenly giving the Irish 5m euros for Thierry Henry’s handball?

“If Mr Blatter paid Mr Platini £1.5million 10 years later how is that accounted for, where did it come from? The first thing I would have done is send in a bunch of forensic accountants and see where the money came from and went to.”

Dyke also said the FA would ask questions to Asian football leader Shaikh Salman Ebrahim Al Khalifa about allegations he was involved in human rights abuses in his home country Bahrain.

He added that he doubted FIFA’s reform programme would produce the comprehensive changes is needed.

Representatives of four FIFA sponsors – Coca-Cola, McDonalds, Anheuser-Busch Inbev and Visa – also gave evidence and said they remained dissatisfied by the lack of independence in FIFA’s reform process, and that they maintained concerns over the conditions of migrant workers in Qatar.

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