- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Australia spent about $40 million in an attempt to host the 2022 World Cup, an ultimately futile bid which received just one vote when the tournament was awarded to Qatar.

With FIFA embroiled in a new corruption scandal, a former member of FIFA’s independent ethics committee, veteran Australian broadcaster Les Murray, says he’s pleased if “crooks have been caught.” He said if another vote is taken - so far FIFA says that will not be the case - that Australia should again vie for World Cup hosting rights.

Swiss authorities conducted early-morning raids in Zurich at FIFA headquarters and a five-star hotel on Wednesday, detaining seven soccer officials. In Miami, FBI and IRS agents carried computers and boxes out of the headquarters of CONCACAF, the governing body of North and Central America and the Caribbean, whose past and current presidents were among 14 defendants named in a 47-count indictment filled with corruption charges that include wire fraud, money laundering and racketeering conspiracy.

Football Federation Australia’s delegation to the FIFA congress didn’t reach Zurich until after the raids, and didn’t plan to comment until after chief executive David Gallop and chairman Frank Lowy assessed the situation.

Murray on Thursday said the arrests were a “day of trauma for a lot of people in the game.”

“But I would suggest it’s a good day if, in fact, crooks have been caught,” he told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio. “There has always been suspicion hovering around FIFA’s high places about corruption.”

The Swiss prosecutors’ office said it seized “electronic data and documents” at FIFA’s headquarters as part of the investigation, and Swiss police said they will question 10 FIFA executive committee members who took part in the World Cup votes in December 2010 which awarded the 2018 tournament to Russia and the 2022 version to Qatar.

“Qatar’s victory was so unexpected, so inexplicable … there was no other explanation than some funny business was going on,” Murray said. “If it comes to pass and courts rule that some manipulation was made and bribes were taken, then I don’t believe there is any other choice but to have a re-vote. And if there is a re-vote, I think Australia should bid again.”

Bonita Mersiades, a former FFA official who worked on the Australian bid before leaving in the wake of her complaints over the role of European-based consultants on the bid, said FIFA needed “a complete overhaul.”

“The tipping point came in November I think, when the summary by the ethics committee of the investigation into the World Cup bidding (for 2018 and 2022) was so absurd, and then you had the man who did that investigation, Michael Garcia, saying as much,” Mersiades told Sydney’s Daily Telegraph newspaper. “All the while we’ve known this investigation by the American authorities was going on in the background and yes, today’s events are unprecedented. Certainly it gives the world of football an opportunity on Friday (the presidential vote) to get FIFA’s house in order.”


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