By Ollie Irish
FIFA will investigate claims that Australia’s bid team for the 2022 World Cup gave gifts of jewellery to its members’ wives in order to try and influence votes. Further claims allege that the Aussies paid for the Trinidad and Tobago Under-20 team to fly to Cyprus, presumably to curry favour with Jack Warner.
Trinidad and Tobago is, as we all know, the home association of FIFA vice-president Warner, aka the most charming and least corrupt man in football…
…As head of Concacaf, Warner has in his clutches three of the 24 casting votes which decide which nation(s) hosts a World Cup finals. Yeah, I know – FIFA sucks balls.
“FIFA can confirm that it is looking into this matter,” an official statement read. “For the time being, FIFA cannot disclose any other details or make any further comment.”
It’s alleged that the Aussie football federation (FFA) gave pearl necklaces to the wives of FIFA executive committee members (don’t laugh and don’t type ‘pearl necklaces’ and ‘wives’ into Google either, at least not at work).
Associations hoping to host major tournaments may give gifts which have “symbolic or incidental value” (a vague definition at best), and the FFA claims that the gifts were presented at a dinner before the formal bidding process had begun.
“It is a widely accepted, common practice, among governments, many business and sporting organisations to provide symbolic gifts, to visiting international delegations,” said FFA chairman Ben Buckley.
I’m sure the Aussies will get away with a yellow card for this. It’s hardly the biggest corruption story in football.
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England, Russia, the USA, Belgium & Netherlands, and Portugal & Spain are contesting for both the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, with a European host almost certain for 2018. It will almost certainly be Russia or England.
Japan, Qatar and South Korea are the other countries along with Australia bidding solely for the right to stage the World Cup in 2022 – but I imagine money-hungry FIFA will eagerly return to the USA then, as it’s desperate for soccerball to grow further Stateside.