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FIFA probing Aussie bid

rhondathompson, [email protected]

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JOHANNESBURG – FIFA is investigating whether Australia’s bid to host the 2022 World Cup has broken ethics rules by offering illegal gifts and inducements.“For the time being, FIFA cannot disclose any other details or make any further comment,” football’s governing body said in a statement yesterday announcing the investigation.The investigation was prompted by a report in yesterday’s Sydney Morning Herald that said the bid campaign offered pearl cufflinks to members of FIFA’s executive committee and necklaces to their wives.But the Australian bid team believes it will be cleared of any wrongdoing over that claim because the gifts were handed out after a private dinner organised by Football Federation Australia chairman Frank Lowy following the May 2008 FIFA Congress in Sydney. That was before the official bidding process began in January 2009.The newspaper also reported that Australia’s bid offered payment for a Trinidad and Tobago Under-20 team to travel to Cyprus.Trinidad’s Jack Warner is a FIFA vice-president and regarded as a key powerbroker in football politics. He leads the CONCACAF confederation and has pledged its three votes for 2022 hosting rights to the United States bid.The newspaper investigation also detailed an expenses-paid trip to Australia for another CONCACAF representative on FIFA’s executive, Rafael Salguero from Guatemala.Bid leader Ben Buckley denied the allegations and said his team stayed within FIFA’s ethics rules.“Football Federation Australia has acted in accordance with FIFA guidelines in respect to its bid for the 2022 FIFA World Cup,” Buckley said in a statement.FIFA rules state that World Cup bidders can give gifts of “symbolic or incidental value and that exclude any influence on a decision in relation to the bidding process”.Candidates also cannot criticise rival bids or make deals to trade support before the December 2 vote of FIFA’s 24-man executive.The guidelines were published last year after England’s 2018 bid team was revealed to have given valued luxury handbags to executive members. (AP)