An Auckland football project at the centre of a Fifa investigation was delivered two years late and more than $10 million over budget – and it’s still only half complete.
Fifa’s Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) president David Chung quit last week after an audit into OFC’s Home of Football project, being built in the Auckland suburb of St Johns, triggered an investigation into “potential wrongdoings”.
The Serious Fraud Office has been made aware of the audit but would not comment further.
The project, paid for by Fifa, was to be built in two stages. The first has been completed and includes two artificial football turfs, changing room facilities and flood lights.
The second stage, which has not been built, was to include a multi-million dollar building with meeting rooms, offices for up to 100 people, a fitness centre, cafe, seating for 2000 people and an indoor sports facility.
OFC, which includes New Zealand and other football-playing nations in the Pacific, is seeking a 30-year lease on the site at Ngahue Reserve on College Rd, conditional on Auckland Council and Ōrākei Local Board approval, which had not yet been granted.
Ōrākei Local Board deputy chairman Kit Parkinson said the project, built on an old landfill, had not cost ratepayers a cent.
Auckland Council ordered a stop to work in December after OFC failed to gain consent, Parkinson said.
Parkinson said other than some foundation work, nothing had been done on stage two.
“There’s basically nothing there.”
The centre was intended to be a public facility 70 per cent of the time and available for OFC to use 30 per cent of the time.
Auckland councillor Desley Simpson, who was Ōrākei Local Board chairwoman during early negotiations with OFC, said in 2013 stage one of the project was estimated to cost $5.3m.
Simpson said Auckland Council figures supplied to her said OFC’s 2016 financial report had costs to date of $12.8m for stage one and $3.1m for stage two, giving a total of $15.9m.
The report was not available on OFC’s website.
The project was due to be completed in 2016, OFC said.
In light of the audit, commissioned by Fifa and conducted by PWC, OFC had appointed an external lawyer to lead an investigation into “potential wrongdoings and to take legal action”, if required, it said.
In the project’s early stages Fifa had agreed to fund up to $13.3m with $6.7m coming from OFC.
Chung was the president of OFC since the project started.
Simpson said OFC had been difficult to deal with and its relationship with Auckland Council had been “tense”.
The local board only agreed to the development unless it got exactly what it wanted, which was a community asset, she said.