For almost a decade many of us have suspected, or known, that the hosting rights for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar were awarded after a corrupt process – and bribery.
Without much fanfare last Monday evening, no lesser an authority than the US Attorney’s office in New York effectively confirmed it in legal paperwork.
In a 70-page indictment, it was stated that associates working for Russia and Qatar paid money to some of the 22 FIFA ExCo members who took part in the 2018 and 2022 votes in early December 2010.
It was stated that associates working for Russia and Qatar paid money to some FIFA members
Specifically this document said the notoriously corrupt former vice-president of FIFA, Jack Warner (now banned for life from football), had received $5m to vote for Russia, while Guatemala’s Rafael Salguero also had money from Russia.
The allegations stretched to specify that Brazil’s Ricardo Teixeira and Paraguay’s Nicolas Leoz received bribes to vote for Qatar.
FIFA corruption is no surprise to anyone, but it’s the first time it’s been stated quite so boldly in black and white in a document authored by a major government investigative authority in relation to 2018 and 2022 bidding.
Russia and Qatar didn’t respond at first then claimed they were both entirely innocent, as you would expect.
Jack Warner, now banned for life from football, had received $5m to vote for Russia
But the 2018 and 2022 claims highlighted the roles of four particular co-conspirators, one of whom, co-conspirator #3, was listed as ‘a close advisor to the president of FIFA and other high-ranking FIFA officials’.
I know this man: I worked with him closely when I had an integral role in Australia’s ill-fated bid to host the 2022 World Cup, working at Football Federation Australia.
It was always clear to me that this person, a consultant, was not what he purported to be and that he was potentially working for other bids. I had grave concerns about his strategy and his approach to finding support for Australia. I made these concerns known to the chairman and CEO of the FFA on multiple occasions.
Co-conspirator #3 and I did not see eye-to-eye and, as I described in my book, ‘Whatever It Takes – the Inside Story of the FIFA Way’, first serialised in this newspaper two years ago, this man was instrumental in ensuring I lost my job.
Brazil’s Ricardo Teixeira (pic) and Paraguay’s Nicolas Leoz received bribes to vote for Qatar
I subsequently endured years and years of heinous behaviour at the behest of both FIFA and FFA. I had taken a stand on what I saw as unethical behaviour, and paid the price.
I am not alone in suffering such treatment. Others have been scared for the lives and livelihoods after speaking out.
And now is the time for FIFA (and, in my case, FFA) to apologise to football’s whistleblowers – of whom there are quite a few.
I am merely one of the public ones that took one for the team, so to speak, in drawing attention to the fact that the ‘FIFA…