Australia mulls fresh SWC bid

2014-06-02 10:28

Sydney - Football Federation Australia said on Monday it may re-submit its bid to host the 2022 Soccer World Cup, after fresh corruption allegations against Qatar's controversial campaign to host the tournament.

FFA chief executive David Gallop said he did not rule out the possibility of Australia re-entering the race if Qatar was stripped of the World Cup, following allegations of widespread corruption and bribery.

"It's a serious development, they're serious allegations and we're looking to see what the response to that will be," he told Melbourne local radio.

Britain's Sunday Times newspaper said it had obtained millions of emails, documents and bank transfers relating to alleged payments made by Qatari former top football official Mohamed bin Hammam.

The newspaper alleged that Bin Hammam, a former Asian Football Confederation president, used slush funds to pay cash to top football officials to win a "groundswell" of support for the tiny emirate's World Cup bid.

Qatar's 2022 football World Cup organisers vehemently deny any wrongdoing.

Gallop said that in the event of the 2022 hosting rights being reopened, Australia could submit their bid once again.

"It's too early to say whether that reopens the door of anything that happened a few years ago in terms of Australia's position but it's a bit of a 'watch this space' at this stage," he said.

Gallop said the FFA had been involved in FIFA's ongoing investigation into corruption and the 2010 vote that awarded the World Cup to Qatar, a small Gulf peninsula with little football history.

He said the FFA had provided documents and interviews to US lawyer Michael Garcia, the chief investigator for the sport's world governing body.

- Vote could be reopened -

If the latest allegations are proven, FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce has announced his support for the 2022 voting process being reopened.

"We've been heavily involved in this now for many months in terms of the investigation that Mr Garcia is carrying out," Gallop said.

"I'm sure when we're in Brazil for FIFA congress then we'll find out more information, but don't be under any illusion that we haven't been involved in all of this for some time now.

"We've been involved in interviews, production of documents and also following carefully what's been happening away from Australia. We've got people who've been involved for some time now."

In the original December 2010 contest to host the tournament, Qatar received 11 votes, South Korea four, the United States and Japan three each and Australia one in the first elimination round.

Qatar went on to beat the United States 14 votes to eight in the fourth round.

South Korea said Monday it would wait for "confirmed facts" before deciding its position.

"These are no confirmed facts as yet and it would be premature to comment. Our position has not been decided," an official from the Korea Football Association (KFA) said.

Another KFA official said: "We will await the outcome of any FIFA probe and then follow its decision."

The Australian government spent AUS$45 million (US$42 million) helping fund FFA's failed bid, and former sports minister Kate Ellis said taxpayers deserved to know whether there had been a level playing field.

"We thought we'd never know that, but maybe as a result of this investigation we will," she told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

"We had an incredibly impressive bid and I was surprised to see that only one voting member agreed with that, but we just don't know what the motivations behind that were.

"We will eagerly be watching to see the outcomes and results of this (investigation) because we'd all have the right to feel very aggrieved if any of these allegations are proven to be correct."

Australian independent senator Nick Xenophon called for the bidding process to be relaunched.

"The bid needs to be reopened for FIFA to have any credibility in the long term and for the world's game to have credibility as well," he said.

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