QATAR have been cleared to host the 2022 World Cup after FIFA’s ethics committee’s investigation into bidding but there is severe embarrassment for England over their bid for the 2018 tournament.
England 2018’s attempts to woo disgraced former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner “violated bidding rules” and included securing a job in the UK for a family friend of the controversial football figure.
The findings are contained in a 42-page report by German judge Hans-Joachim Eckert, chairman of the adjudicatory chamber of FIFA’s independent ethics committee, in his ruling on the Garcia investigation into 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding.
The report effectively confirms Qatar and Russia as 2022 and 2018 hosts respectively, stating any rule breaches by the bidding countries were “of very limited scope”.
“In particular, the effects of these occurrences on the bidding process as a whole were far from reaching any threshold that would require returning to the bidding process, let alone reopening it,” states Eckert.
England 2018’s targeting of the block of FIFA executive votes apparently controlled by Warner led to the Trinidad official, then a powerful force within FIFA, “showering the bid team with inappropriate requests” and these were often accommodated.
The report states: “Relevant occurrences included Mr Warner pressing, in 2009 and again in 2010, England’s bid team to help a person of interest to him find a part-time job in the UK.
“England 2018’s top officials in response not only provided the individual concerned with employment opportunities, but also kept Mr Warner apprised of their efforts as they solicited his support for the bid.”
The report states England 2018 also picked up the bill for a £35,000 gala dinner for Caribbean officials, provided “substantial assistance” for a training camp for an under-20 Trinidad and Tobago team in 2009, while Warner also asked for favours for his Trinidad football club ‘Joe Public FC’.
The report says: “The bid team often accommodated Mr. Warner’s wishes, in apparent violation of bidding rules and the FIFA code of ethics
“England’s response to Mr. Warner’s – improper – demands, in at a minimum always seeking to satisfy them in some way, damaged the integrity of the ongoing bidding process. Yet, such damage was again of rather limited extent.”
The report also says that Lord Triesman, who was England’s bid chairman at the time, would not co-operate with the investigation despite using Parliamentary privilege to make a number of allegations.
The report also clears Qatar of involvement in any payments by Mohamed Bin Hammam, the Qatari former FIFA executive committee member who was banned for life by FIFA. It says Bin Hammam was “distant” from the bid committee and that payments and sweeteners made to Warner and some African officials were more connected with his challenge to Sepp Blatter for the FIFA presidency in 2011.
Russia and Australia also came in for some criticism in the report. The Russians failed to provide copies of all their emails from the bid organisation on the basis that their computer equipment has since been scrapped.
Australia also made efforts to woo Warner and Oceania chief Reynald Temarii, including providing money for development projects.
In relation to Warner, the report states it “identified certain payments from the Football Federation of Australia (FFA) to CONCACAF which… appear to have been co-mingled, at least in part, with personal funds of the then CONCACAF president [Warner] who at the time also was a FIFA executive committee member.”
The report fails to mention anything however about Spain/Portugal’s bid for 2018, which could lead to disciplinary action.
It says: “With regard to one specific bid team however, the report noted that the relevant federation was particularly un-cooperative in responding to the investigatory chamber’s requests.”
The chief of Russia’s 2018 World Cup organising committee, Alexey Sorokin, says the country has nothing to hide.
“We don’t have any particular emotions because we were always confident that there could be nothing which would come out from this investigation,” he said in an interview with Sky Sports News HQ.
“It’s something FIFA deemed important to do, it was done, we participated, we complied, what more can we do?”
On the subject of not being able to provide copies of all their emails, Sorokin insists there is a plausible explanation.
“There were no deleted emails. We rented the equipment, we had to give it back then it went – we don’t even know where it went – to some sports schools so quite naturally other people used it,” he added.
“Whatever we could supply, everything we could supply to the investigattion we did. But we have to bear in mind that four years have passed since then so some of the information we could just forget, naturally.
“There is no implication to what I’ve said, certain pieces you just forget.”