LONDON: The Football Association is to consult its lawyers after suspended FIFA president Sepp Blatter’s suggestion that Russia was set up to host the 2018 World Cup even before the vote took place.
Russia won the bidding in the second round of the ballot by the world federation’s executive committee on December 2, 2010. It obtained nine of the 22 votes in the first round and a simple majority 13 in the second round.
The FA spent £21million on England’s failed bid for the 2018 tournament, including £2.5million of public money from local authorities, and its chairman Greg Dyke told MPs it would be “very nice” to get that money back.
Spain/Portugal and Belgium/Holland also spent significant sums on bidding.
Dyke, giving evidence to the culture, media and sport committee, said: “We will look into detail at what Mr Blatter says. There’s nothing Mr Blatter says that surprises me much. If he is saying ‘we wanted Russia’ and it looks like he wanted that fixed before the vote, it’s suggesting that it was all fixed anyway.”
Asked if the FA would look to reclaim the bid costs, Dyke replied: “We will obviously go back and look at it. I think it would be a good idea. But get the bid costs back from whom? From FIFA?
“I agree it would be very nice to get taxpayers’ money back.”
Dyke said after the hearing: “We will go back and ask questions about what Blatter has said today. We will ask some questions about what Mr Blatter has said and talk to our own lawyers, but this is uncharted territory.”
Blatter did not expand on who exactly had “agreed” for Russia to be hosts or when but claimed the current crisis in FIFA had been prompted by England and the USA being “bad losers” as a result of their World Cup bid failures.
Dyke was also quizzed by MPs over the FA’s backing for UEFA president Michel Platini before the Frenchman was provisionally banned pending an ethics committee hearing into a 1.3million payment for work carried out at least nine years previously.
The FA chairman confirmed the decision to suspend support for the Frenchman came after it emerged there was no written contract existed for the payment. He also said he thought it was “unlikely” that Platini would be able to proceed with a bid for the FIFA presidency.
He said: “That there was no contract, or a verbal contract 10 years later seems to me unrealistic. We were told initially there was a contract, we then discovered at that UEFA meeting there was no [written] contract.”
Dyke also pointed the finger at FIFA’s auditors KPMG.
He said: “Where has KPMG been for all these years? Quite big sums of money do not appear to have been accounted for. How do you account for suddenly giving the Irish 5m euros for Thierry Henry’s handball?
“If Mr Blatter paid Mr Platini £1.5million 10 years later how is that accounted for, where did it come from? The first thing I would have done is send in a bunch of forensic accountants and see where the money came from and went to.”
Dyke also said the FA would ask questions to Asian football leader Shaikh Salman Ebrahim Al Khalifa about allegations he was involved in human rights abuses in his home country Bahrain.
He added that he doubted FIFA’s reform programme would produce the comprehensive changes is needed.
Representatives of four FIFA sponsors – Coca-Cola, McDonalds, Anheuser-Busch Inbev and Visa – also gave evidence and said they remained dissatisfied by the lack of independence in FIFA’s reform process, and that they maintained concerns over the conditions of migrant workers in Qatar.
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