Bri­tish SFO to probe Fifa

Marlborough Express - - SPORT - FOOT­BALL

The United King­dom’s Se­ri­ous Fraud Of­fice is re­view­ing a Fifa re­port into con­tro­ver­sial bids to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

A 2014 re­port by former Fifa ethics in­ves­ti­ga­tor Michael Gar­cia had only been pub­lished as a 42-page sum­mary but was leaked.

It was pub­lished by Fifa the next day and re­vealed de­tails of ‘‘im­proper’’ ac­tions by bid teams, in­clud­ing Eng­land’s.

The Se­ri­ous Fraud Of­fice, which has the power to pros­e­cute, con­firmed it is now scru­ti­n­is­ing the full pub­li­ca­tion ac­cord­ing to the BBC.

Con­fir­ma­tion of the SFO’s in­ter­est comes 20 months af­ter its di­rec­tor David Green told MPs of po­ten­tial money laun­der­ing of­fences, in­clud­ing a pay­ment of $500,000 Aus­tralian dol­lars made by the Aus­tralia 2022 bid com­mit­tee to Jack Warner - then a se­nior Fifa of­fi­cial but since banned from the game and un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion - which may have gone through Lon­don.

At the time, Green, who was giv­ing ev­i­dence to the Cul­ture, Me­dia and Sport se­lect com­mit­tee, said Fifa could not be pros­e­cuted un­der the 2010 Bribery Act as the al­leged of­fences took place be­fore then.

In Oc­to­ber 2015, Green’s team was scru­ti­n­is­ing 1600 doc­u­ments pro­vided by the Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion re­lat­ing to Eng­land’s failed 2018 bid.

Gar­cia was asked by Fifa to in­ves­ti­gate the nine bids to stage the tour­na­ments, in­clud­ing Eng­land’s for 2018.

He quit his role at Fifa in protest when his re­port was con­densed, say­ing it was ‘‘er­ro­neous’’. But his in­ves­ti­ga­tion prompted fol­low-up in­quiries by the gov­ern­ing body, pri­mar­ily into mem­bers of its ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee.

Fifa sub­se­quently cleared Qatar, who will stage the 2018 tour­na­ment and 2022 hosts Rus­sia, of any wrong­do­ing.

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