By David OwenDecember 6 - A key consultant to another defeated bidder in the race for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups has questioned the integrity of some of the FIFA top brass who determined the outcome.
Published on Monday, 06 December 2010 23:29
Peter Hargitay (pictured), a top strategist for Australia's bid to host the 2022 tournament which lost out to Qatar, garnering just one vote – believed to be that of former German football captain Franz Beckenbauer – said Australia had expected to poll six votes in the critical first round, but the bulk of these had just "vanished".
Interviewed at length by Australia's SBS Television, Hargitay said that before last Thursday's vote "we had six votes that we were sure we had got.
"We needed at least five to survive the first round.
"We always knew that the first round was going to be the crucial round.
"Of the six votes we had one left and that one vote was claimed by two people.
"So you tell me about dishonesty.
"After the vote we were told by two people that they were the only ones who voted for us.
"Now one of the two was fibbing, wasn't he?
"And the other four or five who shook hands with the chairman and who were entirely and totally credible and who reconfirmed their position before they went into the vote, they just vanished."
When it was put to him directly that at least five of the six people lied to Australia's bid chairman Frank Lowy, Hargitay replied "yeah".
"So we were duped?" continued the interviewer.
"Yes," Hargitay replied.
"You are dealing with a very special type of person who will shake your hand, look in your eye at five o'clock in the afternoon before the day of voting and say, 'I'm with you'."
Asked why someone who had promised to vote for Australia would vote for Qatar, Hargitay replied: "What do you think?
"What do you think motivates people - 14 of them, right - to vote for a country the population of which is the size of Zurich?
"To vote for a country that is the size of Fiji?
"To vote for a country where the infrastructure to play host to millions of fans still has to be created?
"How can 14 men take that decision?
"It is not a tight vote, it is 14-8 - that's astounding."
Asked directly whether votes were bought, Hargitay emphasised he was not accusing anyone.
However, he argued that the "most fundamental mistake" made by Australia – "and there was no other way" – was to have "played it clean".
His comments follow remarks made by Andy Anson, chief executive of England's bid for the 2018 tournament, who said he was staggered to have received only two votes when promised many more.
"I'm not going to beat around the bush," Anson said.
"Individual members promised us their votes and that's difficult to stomach, as is looking some of them in the eye."
Attention is now starting to focus on whether unhappiness with the vote will coalesce into a credible challenge next year to Joseph Blatter for the FIFA Presidency.
An early litmus test may come in the first week of the new year, when a number of FIFA Executive Committee members from Asia – the Confederation including both Australia and Qatar – face re-election.
The interview with Hargitay may be viewed here
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