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SBD Global/March 31, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Football Federation Australia Denies Allegations It Tried To Buy World Cup Votes

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," according to the AAP. Allegations have been made by an "Australian whistleblower" to FIFA Chief Investigator Michael Garcia, the U.S. lawyer "leading FIFA's investigations into claims of corruption in the bidding for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups." Garcia will "reportedly visit Australia in the next few days to meet people who worked on Australia's bid." FFA said that it "would not comment on the ongoing Garcia inquiry but denied the payment in question was made to influence voting." An FFA spokesperson said in a statement, "Australia, like all nations bidding for the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups, was required by FIFA to establish football development programs in other nations where football facilities and funding were lacking" (AAP, 3/30). In London, Nick Harris reported the whistleblower, who "attended meetings at which the Australian bid team discussed the Warner transaction and others of a similar nature, claims that while the money was paid to upgrade the Marvin Lee Stadium in Macoya, Trinidad, it was always intended to influence Warner's vote." Warner was at the time president of CONCACAF. The stadium is "part of the Joao Havelange Centre of Excellence, a football academy built on land alleged to have been owned by Warner." He denied ownership, "insisting it belonged to the Caribbean Football Union, of which he was president." A check for A$462,200 was "deposited into an account controlled by Warner in September 2010 and an official report into integrity in Caribbean football in April 2013 concluded that he 'misappropriated these funds.'" The "significance now of the whistleblower's testimony to Garcia is that it has been made to a formal FIFA investigation, specifically linking money paid by a bidding nation for bidding support" (DAILY MAIL, 3/29).
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