2022 World Cup Hosts Qatar have been cleared of corruption allegations but the English FA has been charged with flouting bidding rules in its efforts to stage the 2018 World Cup.
The FA acted in an inappropriate manner when trying to win the support of a major voter, according to the FIFA report. The Gulf state is now in the clear after Qatar faced a number of claims associated with its bid. FIFA’s eagerly anticipated report ends any speculation concerning a re-vote.
Football’s World governing body expressed that “a degree of closure has been reached” while the FA responded to the criticism levelled at it by saying that it had “conducted a transparent bid”. Their statement read: “We do not accept any criticism regarding the integrity of England’s bid or any of the individuals involved.”
The FA has often called for transparency in the voting process and accused FIFA of not doing enough to stamp out corruption, so it does come as a shock to see the FA criticised in this way. Jack Warner, who resigned from his role in 2011 amid corruption allegations is said to have been the target of FA efforts to “curry favour” for their bid chances. Those who were involved in England’s bid could now be facing action after the conclusion of the 24-month probe which was headed by American lawyer Michael Garcia.
Several damaging points concerning the behaviour of English officials were made in the FIFA’s report, which also looks at the conduct of other prospective host countries for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup Finals. England’s bidding team tried to sway the influence of Warner, who is from Trinidad & Tobago, by:
Trying to help “a person of interest to him” find a part time job in the United Kingdom
Letting the Trinidad and Tobago Under-20 squad hold a training camp in the UK in the summer of 2009
Sponsoring a gala dinner for the Caribbean Football Union, at a cost of $55,000 (around £35,000)
Hans-Joachim Eckert, FIFA’s independent ethics adjudicator, wrote in the 42-page report that England’s bid team “showed a willingness, time and again” to meet Warner’s expectations. It damaged “the image of FIFA and the bidding process”, Eckert said.
David Beckham, Prime Minister David Cameron & Prince William joined England’s bid team when voting took place in December 2010 in Zurich, Switzerland. The team attended the ceremony to announce the winners and also met FIFA delegates privately. Prince William, who is president of the FA, said he was “immensely proud” to have been part of England’s bid.
The conduct of all nine bidding teams who were trying to win the right to stage either the 2018 and 2022 World Cups were examined by FIFA’s inquiry. It was started after several corruption allegations were made after the voting had taken place in 2010. Russia won the right to host the 2018 World Cup, beating off England as well as joint bids by the Netherlands/Belgium and Spain/Portugal. England collected just two votes after expressing high hopes of winning.
Qatar were the surprise winners of the 2022 tournament bid, beating Australia, Japan, South Korea and the United States. They were later accused of paying FIFA officials £3m to secure backing for its bid. Qatar have now been cleared of wrongdoing, although the report did mention that there were “certain indications of potentially problematic conduct of specific individuals”.
Payments by former FIFA vice-president Mohamed bin Hammam were judged to be for the disgraced Qatari’s personal political interests, not the 2022 bid. Qatari officials said “We co-operated fully with the ethics committee’s investigation and continue to believe that a fair and appropriate review will demonstrate the integrity and quality of our bid.”
Written by Paul Yarden