World Cup inquiry clears Qatar but criticizes English FA

The English Football Association has been accused of damaging the image of Fifa and flouting bidding rules in its attempt to stage the 2018 World Cup.

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A Fifa report says the FA behaved improperly when trying to win the backing of a key voter.

However, Qatar have been cleared of any wrongdoing during their successful bid to stage the 2022 World Cup, thus ending talks of a possible re-vote.

The Gulf state had faced a number of corruption allegations.

The news that the FA has come in for criticism is a surprise given that it has repeatedly called for transparency in the voting process and accused Fifa of not doing enough to stamp out corruption.

The FA is accused of trying to “curry favour” with former Fifa vice-president Jack Warner, who quit his role in 2011 amid bribery allegations.

Individuals involved in England’s bid could now face action following the conclusion of the two-year inquiry.

Fifa’s report, which also looks at the conduct of other bidding nations for both the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, makes a number of damaging points about the conduct of England bid officials.

In particular, it says England’s bid team tried to win the support 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

In his 42-page report, Hans Joachim Eckert, Fifa’s independent ethics adjudicator, writes that England’s bid team “showed a willingness, time and again” to meet Warner’s expectations.

By doing so, it damaged “the image of Fifa and the bidding process”.

The inquiry looked at the conduct of all nine bidding teams who were trying to win the right to stage either the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

It was initiated after a number of corruption allegations were made once voting had taken place in 2010.

2018 World Cup voting

Round 1 Round 2
Russia 9 13 (majority)
Spain/Portugal 7 7
Netherlands/Belgium 4 2
England 2

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 won just two votes after expressing high hopes of winning.

To much surprise, Qatar were awarded the 2022 tournament, edging out Australia, Japan, South Korea and the United States.

Qatar were subsequently accused of paying Fifa officials £3m to secure backing for its bid but have now been cleared of wrongdoing.

As for Russia, they have also been cleared, although the report noted its bid team made “only a limited amount of documents available for review”.

2022 World Cup voting

R1 R2 R3 R4
Qatar 11 10 11 14 (majority)
USA 3 5 6 8
S Korea 4 5 5
Japan 3 2
Australia 1

According to the report, the Russian team hired computers that were subsequently destroyed, denying the inquiry access to email accounts.

However, the report effectively confirms Qatar and Russia as 2022 and 2018 hosts, stating any rule breaches by the bidding countries were “of very limited scope”.

The FA have yet to react to the report’s findings.

Neither has former FA chairman Lord Triesman, who is also criticised directly in the report.

While the majority of England’s bid team is praised for its co-operation with the inquiry, which was led by American lawyer Michael Garcia, Lord Triesman is said to have twice refused to provide assistance.

Australia have also come under fire.

The report claims they also made efforts to woo Warner and Oceania chief Reynald Temarii, including providing money for development projects.

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