June 04, 2015

Australian police said Thursday they are investigating corruption claims surrounding Australia's failed bid for the 2022 World Cup, and they involve former FIFA vice president Jack Warner of Trinidad and Tobago.

Senator Nick Xenophon was among those who asked the Australian Federal Police to investigate the claims after Football Federation Australia chairman Frank Lowy defended his group's payment of 500,000 Australian dollars to the CONCACAF regional football federation in North America, an amount Lowy said Wednesday was ''misappropriated'' by then CONCACAF president Warner.

Warner was among 14 key football figures charged with corruption by U.S. authorities last week.

Australia spent about $40 million attempting to win hosting rights for the 2022 World Cup, but received just one vote when Qatar secured the rights in December 2010.

''We ran a clean bid,'' Lowy said in an open letter Wednesday following the announced resignation of FIFA President Sepp Blatter. ''I know that others did not, and I have shared what I know with the authorities, including Michael Garcia who undertook a 2-year investigation into the 2022 World Cup bid.''

He defended the $500,000 payment made by Australia to CONCACAF during the bidding process, ostensibly for funding of a feasibility study into a Centre of Excellence in Trinidad and Tobago.

Lowy said subsequent inquiries ''found Jack Warner had committed fraud and misappropriated the funds'' and said Australia only agreed to a smaller payment rather than the $4 million that was requested.

''We asked CONCACAF to give our money back because it wasn't used for the purpose we intended, and were advised by FIFA to wait until the inquiries were complete,'' Lowy said. ''Those inquiries are still ongoing.''

On Wednesday in Marabella, Trinidad, Warner made a televised address saying he will prove a link between FIFA and his nation's elections in 2010.

''I will no longer keep secrets for them who actively seek to destroy the country,'' Warner said. ''The die is cast. There can be no turning back. Let the chips fall where they fall.''

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