FIFA rebukes England, Australia World Cup bids
A FIFA ethics judge rebuked England and Australia on Thursday for their conduct during their failed World Cup bids, using harsher language than directed toward the winning bids from Russia and Qatar.
Judge Joachim Eckert found "potentially problematic facts and circumstances" in both bids and said they damaged and undermined the integrity of the whole bidding process. However, he ruled the actions did not affect the integrity of the 2010 vote which gave the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 tournament to Qatar.
England received only two of the 22 votes in the 2018 election, while Australia received only one in the 2022 decision.
Eckert's report criticized England's attempts to woo Jack Warner, the former head of CONCACAF, the North America and Caribbean soccer confederation. England has been a vocal critic of Warner, FIFA and FIFA President Sepp Blatter since its humiliating vote result.
Eckert accused Warner, who resigned from FIFA in 2011 to avoid a corruption investigation, of "showering the England 2018 bid team with inappropriate requests" to gain his vote
Eckert said in his 42-page report that Warner's expectation that bidders would accommodate his wishes was in "apparent violation of bidding rules" and FIFA's ethics code.
"England 2018's response showed a willingness, time and again, to meet such expectation, thereby damaging the image of FIFA and the bidding process," the German judge added, saying ethics proceedings could be launched against "specific individuals."
England's bid team was very public in its attempts to gain Warner's support, embarking on high-profile trips to Trinidad and Tobago. But having reviewed evidence from ethics prosecutor Michael Garcia, Eckert criticized England for agreeing to Warner's request to pay $55,000 to sponsor a Caribbean Football Union dinner in 2010, which "damaged the integrity of the bidding process."
Eckert found the damage was of a "limited extent" as was also the case when England provided "substantial assistance" for the Trinidad and Tobago Under-20 team to train in Britain in 2009, and appeared willing to provide "benefits" to a Warner-owned club.
England found a job in Britain for a "person of interest" to Warner, Eckert said, giving the appearance "it sought to confer a personal benefit on Mr. Warner in order to influence his vote."
David Triesman, who led England's bid at one time but resigned before the vote, refused to provide evidence to the inquiry, said Eckert, who assessed the Englishman's previous claims in a British parliamentary hearing.
In 2011, Triesman made accusations against Warner and three other members of FIFA's executive committee at the time of bidding, which FIFA dismissed. Eckert's report said he believes "serious violations of bidding rules" occurred and said disciplinary proceedings could be launched relating to England's bid.
On Australia's bid, Eckert said he was troubled by the links between its financial backing for apparent football development work overseas, highlighting attempts to divert Australian government funding set aside for African projects to countries with ties to FIFA voters.
"Australia's acquiescence helped create the appearance that benefits were conferred in exchange for a vote, thus undermining the integrity of the bidding process," Eckert said.
Eckert also found that two Australia consultants "violated the bidding and ethics rules." But due to Australia's "omission of specific language binding its consultants to FIFA statutes and regulations," Eckert said FIFA is "limited in what action it can take" against the pair.
Eckert said one consultant gave "the appearance, at least to his employer, that he was improperly influencing the process" using his "purported relationship with high-ranking FIFA officials."
Eckert suggested Australia's actions could lead to "specific individuals" facing action.