News 2 November 2015

FIFA Update: Australia bid, Beckenbauer & sponsor warnings

• Australia seek payback for failed hosting bid

• Germany’s Beckenbauer under renewed scrutiny

• Blatter dismisses sponsors’ attacks as politically motivated

Australia seek payback for failed hosting bid

The former head of communications for Australia’s failed bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup has told the BBC that the money spent on their bid ‘should be recovered on behalf of the taxpayers.’ In an interview with BBC Radio 5 live, Bonita Mersiades, reportedly said that ‘highly paid consultants’ had told the Australia 2022 team that aspects of the bidding process, on which substantial public funds were spent, ‘didn’t count’ towards the final vote.’

In an exclusive interview with the Sports Integrity Initiative, Mersiades explained how Australia’s 2022 bid committee set aside A$5 million for payments to heads of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC); A$4 million for the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) and between A$4 million and A$8 million for the Confederation of African Football. Speaking at Play The Game 2015 in Denmark last week, Mersiades described the payments as “brown paper bag money”, and explained how her personal computer had been targeted in attacks that are under formal investigation in Australia, but have been traced back to Zurich.

Mersiades’ comments come just days after Greg Dyke, the Chairman of the UK Football Association (FA), giving evidence to the UK Parliament’s Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, said that it would be ‘very nice to get taxpayers’ money back’ after England’s own failed bid for the 2018 World Cup. This was following comments made by FIFA President Sepp Blatter in an interview with a Russian news agency, where he inferred that the decision to award the 2018 World Cup to Russia was already decided before the vote took place.


Germany’s Beckenbauer under renewed scrutiny

The Daily Mail has reported that, in an investigation into the bidding process surrounding the 2006 FIFA World Cup, it has uncovered evidence suggesting that Franz Beckenbauer had a ‘central role in endorsing a financial inducement to Malta just weeks before that country voted for Germany to stage the 2006 World Cup.’ The English newspaper alleges that Beckenbauer, a former FIFA Executive Committee member and Head of Germany’s 2006 Organising Committee at the time of the bidding in 2000, was ‘complicit in influencing the votes of FIFA’s executive committee.’

Last month the investigatory chamber of FIFA’s Ethics Committee confirmed that ‘investigatory proceedings’ had been passed against Beckenbauer for actions ‘related to the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments’ and his ‘refusal to co-operate’ with the inquiry into the awarding of the two World Cups. According to The Daily Mail, it is ‘not known if there is an investigation into the 2006 bid allegations’. However recently the Sports Integrity Initiative reported that the President of the German Football Association (DFB), Wolfgang Niersbach, had to deny allegations that the committee behind the bid to host the 2006 World Cup had set up a slush fund to pay bribes to FIFA officials. According to Reuters, Niersbach said that he was ‘not able to answer’ why the decisions about multi-million payments to FIFA were conducted privately, and without Niersbach’s knowledge, between FIFA President Sepp Blatter and Germany’s Franz Beckenbauer.


Blatter dismisses sponsors’ attacks as politically motivated

In an interview with the Financial Times, Sepp Blatter has said that it is only ‘the American companies’ who are threatening to withdraw sponsorship of FIFA events. On Wednesday, Ellen Richey, Vice Chairman of Visa, a major FIFA sponsor, told the UK Parliament’s Culture, Media and Sport Committee that it would cut ties with football’s world governing body if it was ‘not satisfied with the reforms being implemented.’

According to the Associated Press, Richey ‘appeared alongside executives from McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and Budweiser brewer Anheuser-Busch, who stopped short of issuing the same threat over the futures of their sponsorships.’ The Sports Integrity Initiative reported in June that Blatter had announced he would ‘step down as President of FIFA between December 2015 and March 2016’ but earlier in October Blatter, who is currently provisionally suspended from his post as President of FIFA, rebuffed calls from major sponsors calling him to immediately resign.

Blatter reportedly told the Financial Times last week that, apart from the American sponsors, the ‘other companies haven’t said anything. So you are intelligent enough to make the connection with American companies and the American investigation. I do not need to underline that.’ Reuters is reporting that Blatter has called the complaints ‘politically motivated and made at the behest of the United States.’

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