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Cash query over Australia Cup bid

Football Federation Australia has denied claims it misled the Australian government over the use of taxpayers' money in its bid to host the 2022 World Cup.

The federation said it had opened its books to government investigators after Australian newspapers reported last week that two European lobbyists stood to earn more than 11 million Australian dollars (£5.9 million) in fees and bonuses if Australia's 2022 bid succeeds.

Also, world governing body FIFA has said it will investigate claims that FFA spent more than 50,000 Australian dollars (£28,000) on gifts to Fifa executive board members and their wives.

Last week's reports suggested FFA may have kept two sets of accounts detailing its use of more than 45 million Australian dollars in taxpayer funds (£25.5 million) set aside by the government to support the Cup bid. One set of accounts was for internal use and the other, less specific, was for the government, the reports said.

Football Federation Australia in a statement Sunday rejected claims of dual account-keeping and said the government accepted the document which formed the basis of the newspaper reports was "a informal planning document."

FFA chief executive Ben Buckley said suggestions of dual accounting were "outrageous and defamatory" and could damage Australia's bid for the tournament.

"We are involved in an extremely sophisticated and competitive process where we are trying to bring the biggest sporting event in the world to Australia but we have always said that we would play by the rules," Mr Buckley said.

"All of our operations are in line with Fifa guidelines and our financial reporting meets our obligations under the funding agreement with the government and any suggestion otherwise is completely wrong and the government has accepted that.

"The eyes of the football world are on this bidding process and any misleading suggestions and or implications have the potential to cause significant damage to the bid, FFA and Australia."

Fifa's executive committee will decide in December which nations will host the 2018 and 2020 World Cups. The 2018 event is widely expected to go to Europe, leaving Australia in competition for 2020 with the United States, Japan, South Korea and Qatar.

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