World Cup 2022: FA reject 'any criticism' after Fifa report claims England's bid 'violated bidding rules'

The hosts of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, Russia and Qatar, have been absolved of any wrongdoing

Martyn Ziegler
Thursday 13 November 2014 11:52
Qatar has a range of logistical hurdles to overcome in hosting the 2022 competition
Qatar has a range of logistical hurdles to overcome in hosting the 2022 competition

The Football Association has rejected "any criticism" of England's bid for the 2018 World Cup after it was censured by a FIFA ethics committee report.

The report criticises England 2018's attempts to woo disgraced former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner saying the bid team "violated bidding rules", including helping to secure a job in the UK for a family friend of the controversial football figure.

An FA spokesman said: "We note the FIFA ethics committee has today published a 42-page report in relation to the bidding processes for the FIFA World Cups in 2018 and 2022.

"We were not given any prior notice of the report before publication. We do not accept any criticism regarding the integrity of England's bid or any of the individuals involved.

"We conducted a transparent bid and, as the report demonstrates with its reference to the England bid team's 'full and valuable co-operation', willingly complied with the investigation. We maintain that transparency and co-operation around this entire process from all involved is crucial to its credibility.

"We also note that after a lengthy investigatory process and assessment, the report has concluded that the 'potentially problematic facts and circumstances identified by the report regarding the England 2018 bid were, all in all, not suited to compromise the integrity of the FIFA World Cup 2018/22 bidding process as a whole'."

The report by German judge Hans-Joachim Eckert, chairman of the adjudicatory chamber of FIFA's independent ethics committee, clears both 2018 bid winners Russia and Qatar to host the tournaments.

Conservative MP Damian Collins, who has campaigned for FIFA reform and in 2011 used Parliamentary privilege to make allegations that bribes helped secure Qatar the tournament, said the report was "a whitewash".

Collins told Press Association Sport: "It is an attempt to con people that there has been a full and independent investigation when there has not been. The result is that allegations of bribery and serious wrongdoing remain unanswered and they are still suppressing the full report."

The report does confirm that disgraced former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner solicited benefits on numerous occasions in violation of bidding rules - and that England often accommodated them. Money that Australia sent for development projects in the Caribbean ended up in his personal bank account.

Collins added: "FIFA are trying to con people that there has been a proper independent inquiry when there hasn't been. This is FIFA investigating itself and not surprisingly returning a verdict of not guilty.

"The points being made about the England bid are just a smokescreen to try to hide these facts."

FIFA said it supported the ethics committee's stance that certain officials could face disciplinary action but welcomed "the fact that a degree of closure" has been reached in that the investigation "did not find any violations or breaches of the relevant rules and regulations".

The statement adds: "As such, FIFA looks forward to continuing the preparations for Russia 2018 and Qatar 2022 which are already well under way.

"For the sake of further closure, FIFA supports the independent ethics committee with respect to their preparedness to potentially open future cases against officials based on the information obtained during this investigation."

Qatar 2022 said it would consider the report "thoroughly before commenting".

Its statement said: "As we have noted in the past, we co-operated fully with the ethics committee's investigation and continue to believe that a fair and appropriate review will demonstrate the integrity and quality of our bid. "

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