Australian police looking into 2022 Fifa World Cup bid

  • AFP, Sydney
  • Updated: Jun 04, 2015 09:39 IST

Police on Thursday said they were looking into corruption claims surrounding Australia's 2022 World Cup bid, as officials made clear the country will not pitch for another major tournament until Fifa cleans ups its act.

Football Federation Australia chairman Frank Lowy said in an open letter on Wednesday that the race for the 2022 tournament, controversially won by Qatar, was "not clean" and he had shared what he knows with authorities.

He also accused Jack Warner, former Fifa vice president and head of CONCACAF, the governing body for the game in North and Central America and the Caribbean, of theft.

Warner, indicted by US authorities on corruption charges, maintains his innocence.

"The Australian Federal Police is currently evaluating allegations of the misappropriation of funds from Football Federation Australia to Fifa," police said in a statement.

"As this matter is now under evaluation it would be inappropriate to provide any further comments."

Warner has been accused of stealing Aus$500,000 from Australia's 2022 bid, an incident detailed in a damning integrity report by CONCACAF in 2013.

In his letter, Lowy said CONCACAF asked for a Aus$4.0 million donation towards a centre of excellence in Warner's Trinidad and Tobago, but the FFA and Australian bid team offered Aus$500,000.

Lowy said the money was paid to CONCACAF but it was ultimately found that Warner "had committed fraud and misappropriated the funds".

Scrutiny of Australia's doomed bid, in which it spent more than Aus$40 million but received only one vote, has been stepped up since explosive allegations of widespread corruption rocked Fifa last week, leading to the resignation of President Sepp Blatter.

Independent senator Nick Xenophon has called for an inquiry into where Australia's bid money went, and written to US Attorney-General Loretta Lynch requesting the Department of Justice investigate the funds allegedly taken by Warner.

"The fact that the money was paid into a US bank account gives the US jurisdiction to investigate," he said.

"That Aus$500,000 was meant for upgrading sporting facilities in Trinidad and Tobago, not for Mr Warner's personal use. Australia deserves that money back."

Lowy also wants the money back.

"We asked CONCACAF to give our money back because it wasn't used for the purpose we intended, and were advised by Fifa to wait until the inquiries were complete. Those inquiries are still ongoing," he said.

Australia also ran against the United States, Japan and South Korea for the 2022 World Cup, and the Fifa developments have led some to suggest Qatar should be stripped of the tournament.

One of two probes underway by US and Swiss authorities is looking into the award of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar.

Australian Sports Minister Sussan Ley said the government would need to see substantial reform at Fifa before considering any further bids.

"Appropriate governance reforms at Fifa must be undertaken, and succeed, before Australia could ever entrust taxpayer dollars towards any bid overseen by Fifa," she told The Australian newspaper.

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