FFA sues Melbourne Age over allegations

Australia’s richest man Frank Lowy is suing the Melbourne Age newspaper in a defamation action relating to claims about the 2022 World Cup bid.

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Football Federation Australia, of which Mr Lowy is chairman and Ben Buckley the chief executive, commenced proceedings against the newspaper in the Supreme Court of NSW on Tuesday.

“Football Federation Australia has commenced defamation proceedings against The Age newspaper in the Supreme Court of NSW today,” an FFA spokesman said.

“The Age published a number of articles relating to FFA’s Bid for the FIFA World Cup 2022 over the past week.

“The articles contain serious defamatory allegations regarding the conduct of the Bid, including FFA’s accounting practices and its compliance with FIFA regulations and its Government Funding Agreement.

“FFA completely rejects these serious allegations and is seeking damages.”

Comment was being sought from the Age.

Government involvement

On Sunday, Australia’s government exonerated officials of the claims that some consultants would receive hidden seven-figure payments if the bid succeeded.

“In a letter to FFA, the government’s Football World Cup Bid Taskforce noted that the Taskforce had specified lines of reporting to FFA and that a document allegedly obtained by The Age newspaper was merely an informal planning document,” the FFA said in a

statement.

Fairfax newspapers had also reported that bid leaders offered gifts to FIFA executive members, who will choose the 2022 World Cup host on December 2.

“All of our operations are in line with FIFA guidelines and our financial reporting meets our obligations under the funding agreement with the Government,” Mr Buckley said.

“Any suggestion otherwise is completely wrong and the government has accepted that.

“The eyes of the football world are on this bidding process and any misleading suggestions and or implications have the potential to cause significant damage to the Bid, FFA and Australia.”

Australia are competing for the 2022 World Cup with the United States, Japan, Qatar and South Korea.

The host for the 2018 World Cup will also be decided on December 2.

The United States is also in the running for that tournament, but it is widely expected to be awarded to either England, Russia, Spain-Portugal or Netherlands-Belgium.

The bid process is monitored by FIFA Ethics Committee chairman Claudio Sulser, a lawyer and former Swiss international forward.

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