Jack Warner $500,000 Fifa Corruption probe he’s not?
Football Federation Australia is adamant the $500,000 it spent on a development in Trinidad before the 2022 World Cup bid vote was never intended to end up in disgraced ex-CONCACAF president Jack Warner’s pockets – and say they will continue to fight for its return.
Disgruntled over the perception they tried to pay Warner directly in exchange for his vote in December 2010 – which failed in any case given he voted for Qatar, which ultimately won the rights – the FFA have made public the cheque which shows they paid the money into the CONCACAF account on September 16, 2010.
The FFA also says the money came from its account, and not the federal government’s funding allocation, because at the point it had decided to pay the $500,000, less than three months before the vote, it would have taken too long to extract the money from the government coffers.
While the FFA claims it wanted the money spent on the project,
They accept – as chairman Frank Lowy did in his public letter on Wednesday – that it was a project the FFA believed could lead Warner, a long-serving and highly influential member of the FIFA executive committee, to vote for Australia.
The organisation claim it was led to making the payments by the controversial “bid consultants”, Peter Hargitay and Fedor Radmann, who were personally recommended to Lowy by their close associate, FIFA president Sepp Blatter.
However, upon learning from the subsequent CONCACAF inquiry in early 2013 that the money had been misappropriated, the FFA, through Lowy, requested the North American confederation pay back the money. That letter, like the cheque, has also been made public.
While the FFA privately concedes the money may be difficult to extract from Warner – who has sensationally promised to unleash his own “avalanche” of evidence – it is hoping CONCACAF, when all the current FBI investigations are completed, will move to pay Australia back the money.
“The failure of the money to be used for its intended purpose shocked us at the time and continues to be a source of bitter disappointment,” a spokesman said. “Because the funds weren’t used for the intended purpose, we will make all efforts to have the money returned.
“We will closely monitor the many inquiries under way by international law enforcement authorities and consider our options when they are complete.”
The FFA also provided a document – a “visit report” – which detailed the nature of their visit to Trinidad and Jamaica in August 2010, underlining the reasons why it believes the investment in the “Centre of Excellence” development was appropriate.
“The documentary evidence shows that FFA was funding a legitimate project and it spent considerable time and effort sending staff to Trinidad to examine the site first-hand and discuss the feasibility in detail,” the spokesman said.
Lowy was not able to speak publicly as he is still overseas, as is chief executive David Gallop, who did not join the FFA until two years after the bid was rejected.
The FFA say they have helped with the previous inquiries, launched by CONCACAF and FIFA, and remain happy to disclose anything that may assist in efforts to clean up the game’s tarnished image.
“FFA has co-operated fully with the CONCACAF and Garcia inquiries and remains willing to co-operate with any further inquiries,” the spokesman said.