Sydney: Australia ran a clean bid for the 2022 World Cup and rejects assertions to the contrary contained in a controversial FIFA report, Federation Football Australia (FFA) chief Frank Lowy said on Friday.
FIFA cleared Russia and Qatar of wrongdoing in their bids to host the World Cup on Thursday but there was criticism in the report of the activities of the government-funded Australian campaign to win the rights to host the 2022 tournament.
The report summary was undermined soon after it was published, however, when former U.S. prosecutor Michael Garcia, who led the investigation, said it had misrepresented his findings.
"FFA did its best to run a competitive and compliant bid and to do it wherever possible hand-in-hand with the Australian government, with the customary government oversight," Lowy said in a statement released on Friday.
"We also involved, wherever possible, other bodies such as UNICEF and FIFA itself. In addition, the financial management of the bid funds were routinely reported to government and reviewed by independent external auditors.
"I made it clear to all involved in our bid that we would run a clean campaign and I stressed this objective at every opportunity."
Australia invested A$43 million ($37.43 million) in their bid to host the World Cup for the first time but received only one vote in the first round of the ballot. Qatar was controversially awarded hosting rights.
The report summary said Australia`s bid had funded soccer development projects around the world and "helped create the appearance that benefits were conferred in exchange for a vote".
The FFA is also accused of making payments to CONCACAF, the regional body for soccer in north and central America, which "appear to have been comingled, at least in part, with personal funds" of then CONCACAF president Jack Warner.
The third main allegation was that the bid had tried "to direct funds the Australian government had set aside for existing development projects in Africa toward initiatives in countries with ties to FIFA Executive Committee members".
Lowy said Australia had been encouraged by FIFA to "take every opportunity to demonstrate Australia`s commitment to football, especially in developing regions".
"It`s clear that this led us to be misled in particular relating to a payment made to CONCACAF which was later revealed to have been misappropriated," he added.
"In hindsight, there are many things we might have done differently and we remain disappointed by our experience of the World Cup bidding process."
The FFA said they would await advice on the next steps in the process given "the apparent dispute between chairmen of the FIFA Ethics Committee`s Adjudicatory and Investigatory chambers" - a reference to Garcia`s likely appeal against the findings of a report he helped compile.
Australian senator Nick Xenophon said on Friday that the investigation was a "whitewash" and a "sick farce" and called on FIFA to refund the money the country had spent on the bid, saying they had been "absolutely ripped off".