FIFA report reveals explosive evidence behind Australia's failed World Cup bid

The 2014 report by FIFA ethics chief investigator Michael Garcia has exposed damning new evidence that alleges Football Federation Australia's failed World Cup bid was tainted by corruption.

Frank Lowy, who was the FFA chairman at the time of the bidding process, and Ben Buckley, the then FFA chief executive, gave assurances that Australia's bid for the $46 million 2022 World Cup was clean. 

But the Garcia report, which was leaked overnight to German newspaper Bild before FIFA released it in full, details evidence of "improper payments" made by the FFA and efforts by the Australian governing body to "actively conceal" the role of key players in Australia's failed bid.

The 430-page report, which FIFA released two years after investigations concluded, questions payments made by the FFA to Jack Warner, who was Trinidad and Tobago's FIFA executive member and also president CONCACAF.

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

A year later, FFA paid Warner $500,000 to support a football "Centre of Excellence" (COE) in Trinidad.

It was later revealed these funds were placed into a bank account controlled by Warner, who it is alleged stole them.

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

"The record provides significant evidence that the AU$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.

"Whether the bid team knew Mr. Warner would later misappropriate the money or that the COE (centre of excellence) project itself was designed for such purposes by Mr Warner does not change these facts."

The report is also highly critical of the FFA's hiring of German lobbyist Fedor Radmann and former FIFA official Peter Hargitay as consultants.

Garcia finds Australia tried to “actively conceal” Radmannn's role because of his close ties to FIFA executive member Franz Beckenbauer, who sat on the voting panel.

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."

Rival countries bidding for hosting rights – the US and England - at the time declined to hire Radmann because they considered it inappropriate given the lobbyist’s personal ties to Beckenbauer.

It is still unclear whether Mr Beckenbauer was the sole supporter for Australia’s bid but the Garcia reports notes the German’s comments to a media report in which he said: “Look, everybody knows whose side I was on. The German Football Association, DFB, had a gentlemen’s agreement with the Australian FA and thus I had a mandate. I had made my views clear at several occasions, and in public.”

The Garcia report is also highly critical of FFA consultant Hargitay, who along with Radmann was paid huge fees by FFA and who had close links to FIFA officials.

Hargitay's connections went as high up as former FIFA president Sep Blatter.

Garcia reveals that in 2009, Hargitay sent a private email to Blatter criticising Qatar's bid.

FIFA rules prohibit bidding countries or their consultants disparaging the bids of rivals to FIFA executive committee members.

"Hargitay forwarded or blind-copied that communication to Australia 2022 Chairman Frank Lowy, who replied to Mr. Hargitay: 'Peter, great piece should help JB' - seemingly a reference to President Blatter's initials - 'FIFA and ourselves. Well done. Frank.'," the report states.

"The language quoted above, and Mr. Hargitay's steps to share the '[t]ruly personal and private' message to President Blatter with Mr. Lowy, demonstrate that Mr. Hargitay tried to advance the Australia bid by undermining Qatar's candidacy.

"Mr. Hargitay's email to a voting member of the FIFA executive committee contravened bid registration rule 11.4."

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Published 28 June 2017 at 10:55am
Source: SBS The World Game