Football Federation Australia has denied any wrongdoing amid allegations its 2022 World Cup bid team paid discredited former FIFA vice president Jack Warner almost half a million dollars in the belief it would secure his vote.
UK tabloid the Daily Mail reported on Sunday the allegations have been made by an Australian whistleblower to Michael Garcia, the American lawyer leading FIFA’s investigations into claims of corruption in the bidding for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
The whistleblower alleges that while Australia paid $462,200 into an account controlled by Warner in 2010 to upgrade the Marvin Lee Stadium in Macoya, Trinidad, it was always intended to influence his vote.
An official report into integrity in Caribbean football last year concluded Warner “misappropriated these funds”.
Warner, who was at the time president of CONCACAF, the governing body for north and central American football, resigned from FIFA in 2011 amid allegations of corruption.
The FFA said it would not comment on the ongoing Garcia inquiry but denied the payment in question was made to influence voting.
It’s regrettable that the funds provided to CONCACAF were not used in the way in which they were intended.
“The funds were paid to a CONCACAF bank account in 2010 and the program was documented in FFA’s World Cup Bid reports, which were in turn subject to Australian government oversight.
“Subsequently, FFA was informed in early 2013 by CONCACAF of allegations that the funds had been misappropriated. FFA assisted CONCACAF in its inquiry into the matter.
“It’s regrettable that the funds provided to CONCACAF were not used in the way in which they were intended.”
According to the Daily Mail report, the whistleblower also alleges Australia paid for projects in Oceania and Africa on the understanding that FIFA executive committee members representing those areas would vote for Australia in exchange.
FFA did not comment specifically on those claims.
Despite spending around $45 million on its bid, Australia received just one vote and was eliminated in the first round of bidding for the 2022 World Cup, won by Qatar.
Garcia, FIFA’s head of ethics, is expected to visit every country involved in the controversial race to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups as part of the investigation.