FA chiefs slam FIFA ethics report on Qatar Cup bid
English football body hits back at findings that it laid on inducements for FIFA exec during World Cup bidding process
Bosses at England’s Football Association (FA) have denied any wrongdoing in the 2010 bidding process for two forthcoming World Cups, following a highly critical report from FIFA.
In a probe running up to today’s partial publication of the report, FIFA’s Ethics Committee examined the conduct of key officials linked to Qatar’s bid to host the 2022 World Cup. In particular, it focused on allegations that FIFA’s then-vice president Mohamed Bin Hammam had made illicit payments totalling £3m to a number of senior executives in world football, as a means of making them more receptive to the Qatari bid.
FIFA’s bidding round for World Cup 2022 was conducted at the same time as its contest to decide the host nation for 2018 – a battle that a strong England bid lost out on to Russia. Taking both rounds into account, the Ethics Committee’s Investigatory Chamber, chaired by US lawyer Michael Garcia, fully exonerated Qatar’s conduct – but censured that of England during the 2018 bid.
Its criticism of the FA centred mainly around the finding that the organisation had tried to foster cosy relations with Bin Hammam’s fellow VP Jack Warner around the time of the bid, by helping to find a employment for a close associate. In the report’s words: “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.”
Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live ahead of the report’s release – when early indications of its content had begun to emerge – former FA chief Mark Palios complained that the various organisations under FIFA’s scrutiny had been held to different standards. “It's embarrassing in a sense that [the FA has] clearly been the main protagonist within FIFA, in terms of trying to drive some kind of proper accountability in respect of the World Cup bidding process. But one of the ironies is if the FA have complied with the requests for evidence they stand to be damned – whereas people who have not complied and not provided evidence cannot be criticised.”
In a statement this morning, the FA said: “We were not given any prior notice of the report before publication. We do not accept any criticism regarding the integrity of England’s bid or any of the individuals involved. We conducted a transparent bid and – as the report demonstrates with its reference to the England bid team’s ‘full and valuable cooperation’ – willingly complied with the investigation. We maintain that transparency and cooperation around this entire process from all involved is crucial to its credibility.”
It added: “We also note that after a lengthy investigatory process and assessment, the report has concluded that the ‘potentially problematic facts and circumstances identified by the report regarding the England 2018 bid were, all in all, not suited to compromise the integrity of the FIFA World Cup 2018/22 bidding process as a whole’.”
On 17 October, FIFA announced that full publication of the report would “not be legally possible”.