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Revelations from former FFA Executive set to reopen 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cup hosting controversy

Revelations from former FFA Executive set to reopen 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cup hosting controversy
January 21, 2018

Controversy over the award of the FIFA 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar is set to be reignited with the publication of a new book which reveals that Qatar's state TV company agreed a US$100 million payment to world football’s governing body if the Arabian Gulf nation secured the 2022 finals.

Set for publication on Wednesday, the book Whatever It Takes: The Inside Story of the FIFA Way, by former Football Federation Australia (FFA), Head of Corporate and Public Affairs Bonita Mersiades follows spent years of investigating the controversial 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cup bidding process and a recent confessional interview with former FIFA President Sepp Blatter about the process.

The book includes a series of apparent new revelations from Blatter including:

• German football legend Franz Beckenbauer, who publicly supported Australia's bid, would not have done so unless he was paid - in breach of the rules;
• That he knew before the vote for 2022 was even conducted that Qatar would win and rival bidders the USA and Australia;
• He was so certain of it that he personally called American President Barack Obama in the days before the vote to tell him the USA would lose.

Blatter says he knew Qatar would win because Michel Platini, then President of European football governing body UEFA told him that he and multiple others on the 22-man voting panel were going to back the tiny Arabian Gulf nation.

Blatter was subsequently dismayed with Qatar's win and wanted them stripped of the tournament but says he did a deal - twice - to stop that happening, in exchange for Qatar's Emir guarantee that Blatter would not face a 2011 FIFA Presidential challenge from Qatar's FIFA Executive Committee (ExCo) member Mohamed bin Hammam.

In the book, Blatter also describes the circumstances of the deals, one made in Doha in late 2010 and one in his FIFA office in Zurich in 2011.

The book says that in the months before the vote in December 2010 - with FIFA executives privately worried that a Qatar win would result in a financial shortfall - broadcaster Al Jazeera (now beIN Sports) agreed the secret deal to pay US$100m if Qatar won the vote, which subsequently happened. When asked about the payment by UK newspaper The Mail on Sunday this week, the broadcaster did not dispute it but characterised the bonus as 'production contributions' that are 'standard market practice and are often imposed upon broadcasters by sports federations and sports rights holders'.

Beckenbauer, aged 72, is arguably Germany's foremost footballing hero having won the World Cup for his country as a player and captain (1974), manager (1990) and tournament bid leader (2006).

In the book, Blatter is reported as claiming Beckenbauer would have received money for working for Australia's bid team, a huge conflict of interest and forbidden by bidding rules given that he was on the 22-man ExCo voting committee. Beckenbauer was banned by FIFA for 90 days in 2014 for failing to co-operate with lawyer Michael Garcia's inquiry into the 2018-2022 process, and when he did later co-operate, he gave evidence that Garcia concluded was unreliable and contradicted other evidence.

Separately, Beckenbauer has been subject to an ongoing investigation around alleged bidding irregularities around the 2006 World Cup.

Mersiades explains how Australia's three 'international bid consultants' were paid around $6 million out of FFA’s Federal Government budget of around $20 million for services that remain vague. One of those consultants was Beckenbauer's friend and business partner, Fedor Radmann, who also declined to cooperate with Garcia.

According to a report in The Mail on Sunday, Blatter told Mersiades “no doubt Radmann had some scheme going. I know he (Radmann) got a lot of money, and Franz wouldn't do what he did for Australia for nothing.”

Blatter claims that in the end, Australia's sole vote before they crashed out actually came from him, not Beckenbauer, who has always declined to say who he voted for. Beckenbauer has not responded to questions about the issue submitted to him via his representatives.

Garcia said in his report “Devices employed by the bid team and its consultants were seemingly aimed at hiding ties with Mr Radmann, while taking advantage of his influence over Mr Beckenbauer to further the bid strategy.”

The deal over the US$100 million bonus from Al Jazeera was agreed, the book says, with the involvement and knowledge of Jérôme Valcke, FIFA’s then Secretary General of FIFA at the time but later banned for nine years from football for corruption.

The book says: “Valcke's concerns about revenue growth in relation to Qatar were assuaged when negotiations commenced in October 2010 for a bonus payment of US$100 million to FIFA from Al Jazeera if Qatar won 2022. There was no way he could turn it down. According to former FIFA staff, Valcke's share was generally five per cent for negotiating the deal.”

Mersiades asked Blatter about this bonus and he says “sponsors and broadcasters pay bonuses all the time. That is not unusual.”

A spokesman for beIN Sports said “there is clearly a significant uplift in interest and additional revenues to a broadcaster and significant additional local production costs to a rights holder when a major sports event is awarded in a broadcaster's domestic market. The relevant media agreements were stand alone from any bid, and were in no way intended to influence the outcome of the vote.”

Whatever It Takes: The Inside Story of the FIFA Way is to be launched at a reception at the UK House of Parliament on Wednesday this week, hosted by football governance reform advocates including UK MP Damian Collins.

Mersiades was Head of Corporate and Public Affairs with the Football Federation Australia between 2007 and January 2010 during which time she was a member of the Senior Management Team for Australia’s 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cup bid.

Since that time she has been a contributor to  the Garcia Report and has revealed a range of behind the scenes elements of Australia’s World Cup bid and related issues.

Click here for details of the book at the Amazon UK website.

Images: Promotion for Australia's ill-fated FIFA World Cup bid (top), Bonita Mersiades (middle) and her new book (below). 

28th July 2017 - A-LEAGUE CLUBS CALL ON FFA TO OPEN UP ACCOUNTS GOING BACK TO FIFA WORLD CUP BID

9th July 2017 - ONGOING GOVERNANCE DISPUTE SEES FIFA THREATEN TO TAKE OVER RUNNING OF FOOTBALL FEDERATION AUSTRALIA

28th June 2017 - AUSTRALIA SLAMMED IN FIFA REPORT ON WORLD CUP BIDDING 

13th June 2017 - AUSTRALIA TO BID FOR FIFA WOMEN’S WORLD CUP 2023 

30th January 2017 - A-LEAGUE CLUB OWNERS UNHAPPY AT FFA’S VISIT TO FIFA 

10th June 2015 - FOOTBALL FEDERATION AUSTRALIA TO CEASE BIDS FOR FIFA EVENTS UNTIL ‘OVERHAUL’ 

28th November 2012 - FIFA TO EXPAND BRIBERY CHARGES AGAINST MOHAMMED BIN HAMMAM 

22nd November 2012 - QATAR FACES FIFA WORLD CUP BID INVESTIGATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE CONSTRUCTION CHALLENGES

29th August 2012 - INVESTIGATION INTO BIDDING PROCESS FOR FIFA 2018 AND 2022 WORLD CUPS

7th April 2011 - FFA DROPS WORLD CUP BID LIBEL ACTION

28th December 2010 - BBC REPORT BLASTS FFA’S ‘DIRTY’ WORLD CUP BID

3rd December 2010 - QATAR WINS 2022 WORLD CUP BID 

18th October 2010 - FIFA FACES CALL TO DELAY WORLD CUP BID VOTE AFTER CORRUPTION CLAIMS 

1st July 2010 - BUCKLEY DEFENDS AUSTRALIA’S FIFA WORLD CUP BID

27th January 2010 - APPOINTMENTS MADE TO AUSTRALIA’S WORLD CUP BID TEAM 

16th June 2009 - LOWY TALKS UP AUSTRALIA’S WORLD CUP BID PROSPECTS

3rd February 2009 - AUSTRALIA ENTERS RACE FOR FIFA WORLD CUP


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