Fifa report finds Australia 'violated' World Cup bidding rules

Fifa President Sepp Blatter announces that Qatar will be hosting the 2022 Soccer World Cup - 2 December 2010 Image copyright AP
Image caption Allegations of corruption in the World Cup bidding process were made after the voting took place in 2010

Australia's conduct in its 2022 bid to stage the football World Cup has been criticised for attempts to divert government money to influence votes.

A Fifa report found Australia's bidding consultants appeared to have "violated the bidding and ethics rules".

It also accused Australian officials of attempting to conceal "certain key relationships" in the bidding process.

The report also criticised the English Football Association but cleared Russia and Qatar of corruption allegations.

But since being released on Thursday, Fifa's report has been heavily criticised - most notably by Michael Garcia, the lawyer who investigated those claims of wrongdoing.

Fifa launched its inquiry into the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups after a number of corruption allegations were made after voting took place in 2010.

Russia won the right to host the 2018 tournament, beating England and joint bids by the Netherlands and Belgium, and Spain and Portugal.

Qatar was awarded the 2022 event, edging out Australia, Japan, South Korea and the United States.

The Australian government spent about A$46m (£26m; $40m) for the country's 2022 World Cup bid but received only one vote.

Buying votes?

The Fifa report claimed Australia's bidding team tried to curry favour with members of Fifa's Executive Committee by directing government funds from development projects in Africa towards initiatives in members' home nations.

It also said there were "certain indications of potentially problematic conduct of specific individuals in the light of relevant Fifa ethics rules".

It found there were several incidents involving the Australia 2022 bid that displayed "potentially problematic connections between financial and other support for 'football development' and the bidding process".

However, it concluded that the connections identified were "all in all, not suited to compromise the integrity" of the bidding process "as a whole".

Football Federation Australia (FFA) said it would seek advice from the Fifa Ethics Committee before making any further comment.

"FFA notes that the Australian bid team co-operated fully with the inquiry and provided transparency on the conduct of the bid," the FFA said in a statement.

Michael Garcia, who conducted a two-year inquiry, said the report "contains numerous materially incomplete and erroneous representations".

The report was based on the work carried out by Mr Garcia, after he was appointed by Fifa to conduct an independent investigation into claims of corruption.

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