Football Federation Australia boss Ben Buckley says any suggestion his organisation’s bid for the 2022 World Cup hasn’t been in accordance with FIFA guidelines is “mischievous and unhelpful”.
The FFA went into defence mode following a Sydney Morning Herald report which suggested the Federal Government had not been given specific details on the money being spent on their appointed lobbyists.
The story also said the FFA had not been given precise details about grants to overseas football organisations, led by influential FIFA officials.
The report said secret FFA files revealed lobbyists Peter Hargitay and Fedor Radmann could make $11.37 million in fees and bonuses between them, if Australia’s World Cup bid was successful.
SBS has been unable to verify such claims.
FFA rejects Fairfax claims
Secret FFA files also suggested the government wasn’t informed about intentions to give $6.5 million to Asian, African and Oceania football organisations, Fairfax reported.
FFA chief executive Buckley wasn’t available for media interviews, but released a brief statement late in the day, rejecting any suggestion his organisation hadn’t complied with FIFA guidelines.
“Football Federation Australia has acted in accordance with FIFA guidelines in respect to it’s bid for 2022 FIFA World Cup,” he said.
“Furthermore, our financial records and reporting for the World Cup Bid are in accordance with our World Cup Bid funding agreement and independently audited.
“Our regular progress reports under this agreement have been transparent and any suggestion otherwise is mischievous and unhelpful.”
Federal Sports Minister Kate Ellis says any payments made by the FFA to lobbyists involved in Australia’s 2022 World Cup bid would be scrutinised by the government.
“Obviously the way the FFA spends government money is subject to the usual reporting and scrutiny requirements,” Ms Ellis told AAP through a sportswoman.
“Any evidence to the contrary would be thoroughly investigated by the government, as would any alleged breach of the funding agreement.”
Ellis said a bid taskforce was already working alongside the FFA and had been assured by that body the money has been spent appropriately.
Opposition leader Tony Abbott said he thought Australia had to try and win the bid on their own merits and shouldn’t be “greasing palms” to assist their cause.
The executive committee will in December determine which nations hosts the 2018 and 2022 World Cup tournaments.
The report also outlined details of a paid trip to Australia for South American FIFA executive committee member and his wife and a payment for a Trinidad and Tobago under-20 team to travel to Cyprus.
Trinidad and Tobago’s Jack Warner is FIFA’s vice president and is considered one of the more influential officials in world football.