Friday, June 3, 2011

Australian football's Cone of Silence

FIFA boss Sepp Blatter is one of the best football prick teasers of all time and he has out-pricked himself with the suggestion that the World Cup 2022 bid could be re-run due to new corruption claims.

But the news that piqued my interest the most has been an interview that appeared on the ABC program Lateline where English investigative reporter Andrew Jennings  (click here) asserted that  former FFA Media and Corporate affairs Manager Bonita Merciades was fired by Ben Buckley at the behest of World Cup bid consultant Peter Hargirty and  also accuses Australia’s Mr Football Les Murray of being part of the 1956 Hungarian Nexus along with fellow Hungarian speakers Sepp Blatter Peter Hargitay &  Frank Lowy.

In the Lateline interview Jennings suggest that: “Bonita read international press, she read what was happening in Germany, what I'd written about him (Hargirty) unchallenged in Britain.  Hargitay said to Buckley, "Fire that woman. Fire that person. Get her out." And big, brave, ballsy Ben Buckley said, "Yes, Peter." You know, imagine: six foot four, Rules player, tough as they come, should've booted Hargitay into the harbour, instead fired this five foot five inch-high smart, good, decent Australian employee who's never worked since. “

After news that there would be a Government review into football a couple of weeks ago I posed some question to Bonita herself:
I asked her on Twitter: You spent time at the FFA. Are you allowed to let Australian football public know what happened behind the scenes? WC Bid? Her response was: “Only think it's useful to do so in a framework of helping advance the game”
So I asked a couple more questions: But don't you think as a journalist letting the public know the truth behind the FFA spin will surely advance the game? Since there is a govt review the public would like to know about WC bid & failed expansion. You can offer a unique insight. Unfortunately I got no response to either question.
Damn you Australian football cone of silence!! Damn you!!

The only reason I can think of why she is silent is that the FFA has imposed a gag order. Kevin Airs is the online editor of Australian 442 website and after the Jennings interview asked Bonita about the explosive allegations.  Kevin Asks: Hi Bonnie, in case you missed my question before, did Hargitay order Buckley to sack you as Jennings says?
Again Bonita ever the diplomat answers without answering:”This would be a waste of a question. Not important. Focus on testing FFA's future plans.”

Back to the interview and I sat there with my mouth open as Jennings called the FFA “The buffoons from Australia” who “listened to this and Les Murray joined in” Regarding the money that was spent on Peter Hargirty Jennings asks 

“Why aren't the coppers round, why aren't your fraud squad round FFA headquarters looking at the money that went to Hargitay and the dubious people he bought in to Australia that took your money?

Jennings now in comedian form said that when then English FA bid Chief Lord David Triesman arrived at the English FA to find the buffoons there had fallen for Hargitay's glib talk.
Then Jennings in a mock Hargirty deep voice impersonation says:
"You know I know President Blatter. I'm very close."
Then he switched to his normal mocking voice:
Oh, yes, Peter, will you work for us? Triesman walked in the door and said, "What's that bum doing here?," and threw him out. He fired him". 

Jennings then mocks the FFA and includes Mr Football Les Murray who besides a couple throwaway lines down the years from various enemies has always been viewed by the majority of Australian footballs through rose tinted glasses.
"The buffoons from Australia listened to this and Les Murray joined in, it's the 1956 Hungarian nexus, I'm afraid, which is, "Oh, well, Peter Hargitay's a wonderful person, very well-connected and we're lucky to get him." 

In an interview with the a different league website (click for link)in December last year Jennings re-iterated that Australia was duped by these consultants and Les Murray was no clean skin either:
"I feel sorry for the Australians. They lost and the taxpayers are the ones who paid for their bid. And now Les Murray comes out and says FIFA are in big trouble. Give me a break. For Les Murray to come out and say that is ridiculous,” said Jennings.
"Murray is a member of FIFA’s ethics committee and described the decision to award the 2022 edition to Qatar as “lunacy”, adding “No one will believe Qatar won this process legitimately.” But, says Jennings, Murray and the Australia bid have their own questions to answer: “Murray has no credibility. The ethics committee is appointed by Blatter for a start. But Murray speaks Hungarian, [Australia 2022 chairman] Frank Lowry speaks Hungarian, [bid advisor] Peter Hargitay speaks Hungarian. Nice little club they’ve got there.”

It’s not just Jennings reporting on this issue. The Age’s Investigative reporters Nick McKenzie and Richard Baker won the Quill Award for Best Sports Story for their articles exposing some of the bidding practices used by the Football Federation of Australia in its ill-fated $45 million bid for the 2022 World Cup.
Upon winning the award the  judges said: "Nick and Richard’s investigation exposed ethical questions about Australia’s pursuit of the World Cup bid and revealed the questionable use of millions of dollars of public money. The reports attracted global interest and led to changes to FIFA

In last Saturdays age : (Click for link) McKenzie and Baker reported that documents obtained under freedom of information laws reveal the department wrote to FFA after it learned of Mr Hargitay and Mr Radmann's involvement to seek details about their remuneration and the documents also show a senior FFA manager, Bonita Merciades, expressed disquiet about the consultants in emails to the government.

After I read this article I joked on twitter that in some organisations “disquiet was frowned upon.” That first there was dissing then quiet and then a door was quietly opened.

The events of this week certainly enhances the cynicism that Australian football fans feel that like many other countries that Australia is just a lowly insignificant pawn in the wider world of football politics which through naivety and stupidity we just don’t understand our place and that if assertions are true that even Mr Football Les Murray was involved in any way in having a dubious character in the WC bid that led to Australian tax dollars being wasted then it’s not just the FFA that can’t be trusted to run the game but what about Mr Football?

When I asked Mr Football if he was able to comment on Andrew Jennings assertion that he  is part of the 1956 Hungarian Nexus with Blatter Hargitay & Lowy? All I got was the Australian football cone of  silence.

Damn you Australian football cone of silence!! Damn you!!

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