MOSCOW: Officials of Russia’s 2018 World Cup organising authority have responded angrily to report that allegations of misconduct in the bid and vote process are being investigating by the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
The United States had been bidding originally for both 2018 and 2022 hostings and the British media reported earlier this week that the FBI had asked members of England’s failed 2018 bid if they were aware of any dirty tricks during the run-up to last December’s FIFA vote in Zurich.
Lord David Triesman, former chairman of the England bid and of the Football Association, had claimed early this year that inducments had been sought by three members of the FIFA executive in exchange for their votes. The recent reports focus on claims of email interception.
But a Russian 2018 spokesman said: “We at Russia 2018 are proud of the way we conducted ourselves throughout a long and highly competitive campaign; as an LOC, we are driven by exactly the same transparency, commitment to excellence and spirit of fair play that underpinned our successful bid.”
FIFA communications director Walter DeGregorio said: “As far as FIFA is concerned there is no investigation. Don’t ask me why the FBI is investigating. I don’t know. What I know is that the FBI is interviewing people who were involved in the England bid . . . so far we haven’t received anything (from the FBI), and I think that we won’t.
“For us, Russia won the bid. I understand, that, you know, coming with Cameron, coming with Prince William and Beckham, and coming away with one vote [as well as the British vote] is hard. I understand the disappointment but at the same time you should give respect to who won the bid, to Russia.”
FIFA president Sepp Blatter has accused England of sour grapes in defeat. Similar reactions have followed complaints about the 2022 vote from Australia and its main supporter, Germany. Australia suffered an even more humiliating defeat than England, receiving only one single vote. Qatar was awarded the finals.