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Wed 3 Jun 2015 01:47 PM

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Qatar's World Cup 2022 rival Australia says ran 'clean bid'

Australia soccer supremo Frank Lowy claims other bidders did not, says he has share what he knows with the authorities

Qatar's World Cup 2022 rival Australia says ran 'clean bid'
Australia soccer supremo Frank Lowy.

Australia soccer supremo Frank Lowy insists his country ran a clean bid to host the 2022 World Cup while others did not, even if they were sometimes naive and made mistakes.

In an open letter released on Wednesday, Lowy said he had nursed a "bitter grievance" since Australia's bid won just a single vote in 2010, and the tournament was awarded to Qatar.

"We ran a clean bid. I know that others did not, and I have shared what I know with the authorities," the Football Federation Australia (FFA) chairman wrote.

The shock resignation of FIFA President Sepp Blatter on Tuesday is likely to intensify calls for the controversial ballot to be re-run if the process is proved to have been corrupt.

While Lowy did not go that far, his letter addresses controversial aspects of Australia's bid, which was funded by A$42.5 million ($33.12 million) of government money.

He goes into detail about the funds disbursed by the campaign to fulfil FIFA demands that bidders show a commitment to international football, in particular $500,000 paid to North and Central America body CONCACAF.

Bonita Mersiades, a former member of Australia's bid team, and local lawmaker Nick Xenophon last week wrote to the Australian Federal Police asking them to investigate the payment.

CONCACAF President Jeffrey Webb and former president Jack Warner are among nine FIFA officials charged by the US Department of Justice last week with running a criminal enterprise that involved more than $150 million in bribes.

The Australian money was requested to fund a feasibility study to develop a Centre of Excellence in Warner's home country of Trinidad and Tobago, Lowy wrote. He said the money was paid into CONCACAF's bank account, not Warner's, and the FFA provided information about the donation to a later inquiry into those accounts.

"That inquiry found that Jack Warner had committed fraud and misappropriated the funds - in other words he had stolen the money from CONCACAF," Lowy wrote.

When FIFA commissioned its own probe under the leadership of former US Attorney Michael Garcia into the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, the FFA again provided the information, Lowy added.

The full report compiled after a two-year probe by Garcia's team has never been published. Garcia later resigned after criticising the summary.

"We asked CONCACAF to give our money back because it wasn't used for the purpose we intended, and were advised by FIFA to wait until the inquiries were complete," Lowy wrote. "Those inquiries are still ongoing."

The Swiss Attorney General announced its own probe into the bidding processes after local police arrested several FIFA officials in Zurich last week.

Japan, the United States and South Korea also bid to host the 2022 World Cup.

Lowy, the billionaire owner of the Westfield shopping centre empire, said he thought football might be "at the dawn of a new era" after Blatter's departure.

"Sepp Blatter's resignation should open the door to major reform," he wrote. "I say 'should' because FIFA's problems are deep-rooted and tangled in a culture that has developed over decades."