Fink: Time for FFA to explain Bid Book

ESPNSTAR.com columnist Jesse Fink believes that it is time to have a close look at how the money was spent by the FFA in bidding for the 2022 World Cup.

Football News: Football Australia 2022 Bid 2

Just when you thought the citadel of bozos otherwise known as Football Federation Australia couldn't get more comic when it comes to corporate incompetence, they manage to screw up the simple matter of announcing the Joe Marston Medallist for best on ground in the A-League Grand Final.

Last weekend Brisbane's Thomas Broich was announced to the 50,000-strong crowd at Suncorp Stadium as the winner when Perth's Jacob Burns was in fact the winner. The FFA have put it down to an "administrative error", more or less what you could say about the entire organisation in everything it does.

How hard is it to get a name right? For the FFA to suggest there was a "breakdown in communication between the announcer and the judging panel" is laughable.

A breakdown?

It's not like "Broich" and "Burns" rhyme. Troublingly for the FFA, though, they share the letter "B".

All of which was clearly enough to throw the FFA into a tailspin and embarrass Broich, infuriate the two coaches, Melbourne-bound Ange Postecoglou and Ian Ferguson, and short change both the fans and Burns himself.

Checks and balances.

The FFA don't have any in place when it comes to league expansion (or, when they handle it, diminution), executive remuneration (wildly underperforming CEO Ben Buckley is paid double the salary of outstanding CEO of the National Rugby League, David Gallop) and especially when it comes to spending taxpayers' money on World Cup bids.

It's been more than six months since the FFA handed down its "Final Report" to the Australian Government on its expenditure of $45.6 million for the quixotic 2022 World Cup bid.

Not every penny was accounted for but, according to insiders, the balance, which presumably represented the bonuses due to two of the highly paid international consultants Peter Hargitay and Fedor Radmann, was repaid in full.

Yet despite questions being raised by Australian current affairs program Four Corners into how $10.38 million, nearly a quarter of the entire budget, was apportioned to the Bid Book alone (including a technical assessment, technical inspection and final presentation in Zurich), no forensic investigation of how that amount was itemised has taken place.

This, despite the fact that the final cost of the equivalent items was double what England 2018 spent on its Bid Book, roughly equivalent to what USA 2022 spent on its entire campaign (yes, the whole shebang) and anecdotally (for no documentary evidence is available) even more than what eventual winner of the 2022 event, Qatar, deemed sufficient for the preparation of its own lavishly produced doorstop.

Indeed, you could buy a copy of the world's most expensive book - John James Audubon's Birds of America - and still be left with change of more than $2 million from what Australia spent on the production of its Bid Book.

A staggering amount of money when, in the words of former FFA head of corporate affairs and bid board member Bonita Mersiades: "We were never under any illusion that the bid would be won or lost by what happened behind closed doors."

FFA chairman Frank Lowy has insisted the 2022 bid did "nothing improper in the fullest sense", that they "played it straight" and we have no reason to doubt his word.

But there are plenty of reasons for that $10.38 million to be doubted.

The Australian Government, who exceptionally of all the bidders for 2018 and 2022 used taxpayers' money to fully fund the campaign, owe the Australian people a thorough forensic investigation.

After Qatar was announced as the host for the 2022, Lowy famously said we hadn't heard "the last word".

He may well be right.



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