England’s Football Association on Thursday rejected claims by world governing body FIFA’s ethics committee that it violated bidding rules in its unsuccessful bid to host the 2018 World Cup.
In a report released on Thursday, the ethics committee clears Qatar over corruption allegations regarding its successful bid to host the 2022 World Cup and criticises England’s failed attempt to host the 2018 tournament, which was awarded to Russia.
The England bid team is accused of having broken rules in its attempts to win the support of former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner, who quit his role in 2011 amid bribery allegations.
But in a statement published on its website, the FA said: “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 cooperation’, willingly complied with the investigation.
“We maintain that transparency and cooperation around this entire process from all involved is crucial to its credibility.”
The FA added: “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 42-page report was released by German judge Hans-Joachim Eckert, FIFA’s independent ethics adjudicator, following an extensive investigation into the World Cup bidding process by American lawyer Michael Garcia.
It alleges that in an attempt to “curry favour” with Trinidad and Tobago official Warner, who was believed to control a block of FIFA executive votes, the England bid team contravened bidding rules.
– ‘Whitewash’ –
England 2018 is accused of helping “a person of interest to (Warner) find a part-time job in the UK” and sponsoring a gala dinner for the Caribbean Football Union at a cost of $55,000 (44,100 euros).
The report also says that the England bid team provided “substantial assistance” for a Trinidad and Tobago Under-20 training camp that took place in 2009.
“The (England) bid team often accommodated Mr Warner’s wishes, in apparent violation of bidding rules and the FIFA code of ethics,” the report said.
“England’s response to Mr Warner’s — improper — demands, in at a minimum always seeking to satisfy them in some way, damaged the integrity of the ongoing bidding process. Yet, such damage was again of rather limited extent.”
The report was branded a “whitewash” by British lawmaker Damian Collins, who has campaigned for FIFA reform.
Collins, from the ruling Conservative party, told Britain’s Press Association: “It is a whitewash as 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 points being made about the England bid are just a smokescreen to try to hide these facts.”
The FA has previously called for more transparency in the World Cup voting process and accused FIFA of not doing enough to eradicate corruption. – Agence France-Presse