CANBERRA (Reuters) - An Australian lawmaker has demanded FIFA “refunds” the A$45.6 million ($48.8 million) the country spent on its unsuccessful bid for the 2022 World Cup, following the corruption scandal plaguing the global soccer governing body.
In a statement titled “Red Card for FIFA,” independent senator Nick Xenophon said Australia should refrain from spending taxpayer dollars on future bids pending the completion of investigations into FIFA.
“It appears corrupt and highly questionable behavior goes to the core of FIFA,” Xenophon said in the statement on Monday.
”Australia spent almost $46 million on a bid we were never in the running for because bribes were being taken for votes.
“Now we hear that bribes may have been made to fix the result for who will head up FIFA.”
Asian soccer head Mohamed bin Hammam and Jack Warner, president of CONCACAF, were suspended over bribery allegations in the worst graft scandal to blight the sport’s governing body.
FIFA’s ethics committee has cleared President Sepp Blatter of any wrongdoing, prompting an angry backlash from powerbrokers Bin Hammam and Warner.
Australia drew only a single vote during the 2022 race, prompting cries of foul play from the country’s bid team and a storm of criticism toward the federal government for financially backing the failure.
Qatar were awarded hosting rights and have since been accused of paying bribes to secure FIFA delegates’ votes.
“The fact that corruption appears to be so pervasive in FIFA makes you wonder whether we should continue to invest millions of dollars in bids for events we’ll never even be in the running to win,” Xenophon added.
”How can FIFA ensure the probity of its bidding process when its senior executives are potentially embroiled in corrupt behavior themselves?
“Until the investigation into FIFA has been completed, Australia must hold off spending any more taxpayer’s money on any future World Cup bids.”
Writing by Ian Ransom; Editing by Greg Stutchbury