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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Australia rejects claims on its World Cup bid

The last may not have been heard of controversies trailing the FIFA World Cup 2018 and 2022, awarded respectively to Russia and Qatar. Agency reports say secret tapes allegedly exposed a corrupt FIFA official telling an undercover reporter that Australia, one of the losers to 2022 Qatar, used dirty tactics similar to those of its bid rivals to win the tournament.
Oceania Football Confederation executive committee member Ahongalu Fusimalohi is taped allegedly claiming Australia’s soccer chief, Frank Lowy, got Canberra officials to do his bidding _ and claiming that Canberra gave Aus AID to Oceania in return for support at the ballot in Geneva.
A Football Federation of  Australia spokesman  was quoted on Friday as saying that the federation was unconcerned by the newspaper report. “It is really a non issue on many fronts,” FFA head of media relations Rod Allen said. “We won’t be making any further comment.”
Australia scored just one vote in its $45_million attempt to host the 2022 World Cup finals. The tapes were said to have been recorded by a reporter from Britain’s Sunday Times, who was sent to New Zealand posing as a lobbyist.
The official was reported to have alleged the then Kevin Rudd_ led Government of Australia plurged $8 million on football in the Pacific to secure Oceania’s support for the World Cup bid.
“Australia (FFA) have never given us anything,” the official said. “What they did was they pushed the Rudd Government because Frank Lowy won’t ever spend a dime. He gets other people to do his spending for him. “That’s how Lowy (Australia’s bid leader) was able to get us $8 million through the Australian Government. It’s direct assistance to football in Oceania. “They are playing dirty tricks as much as any other person is.
In FIFA it’s a dirty game altogether. “The Rudd Government signed a three_year assistance to regional football deal with $8 million through AusAID.”
The official was suspended by FIFA, the world governing body of soccer, after his comments in relation to England’s failed 2018 bid were splashed across the Sunday Times.
A spokesman for the Australian Federal Government said that $4 million had been allocated to youth soccer in the Pacific. He insisted the money was not related to the FIFA World Cup bid.
“The football-related assistance announced at the 2009 Pacific Islands Forum is to fund activities for six to 12-year-olds in schools in nine Pacific countries to promote girls’ roles, healthier lifestyles and the value of education,” he said.
By Eddie Akalonu with Agency reports
“This is part of a broader package of $26 million of sport for development assistance that also included support for netball, rugby league, rugby union and cricket.
“From an aid perspective, any support for football — or any sport — must contribute to effective development.”
“AusAID ensures that internationally agreed development principles guide … all of Australia’s sports development assistance. AusAID works with partner country organisations and supports local needs and priorities.”