Football: Australia denies acting improperly in WC2022 bid

Football: Australia denies acting improperly in WC2022 bid
Qatar was controversially awarded the 2022 event.

SYDNEY - Australia's football chiefs on Tuesday rejected suggestions they acted improperly during their bid to host the 2022 World Cup after the "development" grants they gave to corruption-riddled overseas football bodies were questioned.

Bonita Mersiades, the corporate affairs head for Football Federation Australia when the bid race was run, claimed that handing out the grants was similar to the allegations against a leading Qatari football official.

Britain's Sunday Times has alleged that Mohamed bin Hammam, a former FIFA vice president from Qatar, paid more than US$5 million (S$ 6.2 million) to officials around the world before the 2010 vote to drum up support for the tiny Gulf state.

Qatar was controversially awarded the 2022 event. The nation's World Cup organisers deny any wrongdoing.

Mersiades told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that questions also needed to be asked about Australia's bid.

"Some of the evidence published in relation to Qatar was that some of the money was given to development projects - we gave money for development projects, we gave US$4 million to the Oceania Football Confederation for sports development," she said.

"That was via the government, in and of itself there was nothing wrong with sports development projects, but the question for Michael Garcia was, was there a vote attached to it?" she added, referring to the man heading a FIFA probe into corruption.

"If the answer to that is yes, then it's very hard to argue that that activity is very much different from what Bin Hammam is alleged to have been doing." Football Federation Australia denied it had done anything wrong.

"Australia's activities throughout were transparent and proper," it said in a statement.

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