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It was always going to happen. That, eventually, a journalist would get hold of the Garcia Report into the conduct of the 2018/2022 World Cup bids and, faced with a narrative out of their hands, FIFA would be forced to release it.

It’s a good thing that it’s been released.

But it’s not good reading.

Not for Frank Lowy, Ben Buckley, the FFA, the other people who knew what was going on and remained quiet, or the Australian government who blithely ticked the boxes on almost $50 million of taxpayers’ money.

Of course, it contains no surprises.

I consistently raised issues about the three consultants – the ones who got their wish in seeing me sacked; their relationships with Franz Beckenbauer, Jack Warner, Mohamed Bin Hammam and Sepp Blatter; the money we spent, or tried to spend, in the name of ‘development’ in Oceania, Africa, Asia (which didn’t rate a mention by Garcia) and, of course, Jack Warner’s Trinidad and Tobago; and the trip to Cyprus for the U-20 T&T team paid for by Australia.

The issue now is what is football going to do about it. Will the nine state-based federation members of FFA continue to meekly accept everything that they’re told?

Do they care that almost US$500,000 was given to Trinidad and Tobago less than two months out from the vote? Do they wonder whose money was used? FFA said it wasn’t bid money, so it wasn’t public funding. Where did the gift for Jack Warner come from? FFA general money, or was it another source?

Do the state federations wonder why we received a ‘Dream Asia’ award from the Asian Football Confederation in November 2010 for a $5 million donation? Only one-quarter of that amount is accounted for in FFA’s final report to government. Where did the rest of the donation come from? And if the donation didn’t happen, should we give the ‘Dream Asia’ trophy back? 

Does it worry them that Andreas Abold’s principal contract was for $3.2 million but he ended up getting paid $10.1 million?

Will they demand an explanation from the two remaining FFA Board members from that time, Joseph Healy and former FIFA Executive Committee member Moya Dodd? What were they doing that they didn’t notice any of this? Did they support former Board member Jack Reilly when he raised issues? 

And will they demand that FFA now drop their bid for the 2023 Women’s World Cup? Do they really think it is appropriate to be spending more taxpayers’ money on this bid – however modest and worthwhile – when FFA was so careless with the last one? What has changed that we won’t see a repeat?

These are not difficult questions.

But if the ‘members’ of FFA are not willing to ask them – even now - then it’s time for change in football in Australia. Players, fans, volunteers and others involved in the game at every level deserve better from its governing body.

That doesn’t just mean the people involved in the bid, but those who have been too afraid, too ignorant, too unconcerned or too willing to jump on the bandwagon to ask the right questions in the first place. All this time, they were staring us in the face.

To borrow from Lieutenant General David Morrison – the standard you walk past is the standard you accept. 

This first appeared at FoxSports.com.au


Categories: Opinion | Football Business

fifa, world cup bid, ffa

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