With the news that Michael Garcia, the leading investigator into the FIFA World Cup Bidding Process for 2018 and 2022, has denounced the report written by Hans-Joachim Eckert based on his findings as “erroneous”, Matt investigates whether the FIFA leadership can survive this latest embarrassment.
Sepp Blatter. The name pierces the ears of England and many other football fans around the world. FIFA President since 1998, he is credited for bringing the World Cup to new and exciting places such as Japan and Korea in 2002, the first World Cup in a unified Germany in 2006, South Africa in 2010, Brazil in 2014 and, of course, Russia and Qatar in 2018 and 2022 respectively. However, his reign and regime have been tarnished with alleged corruption from top to bottom and calls for his resignation have grown stronger in recent years.
Having announced that he would not stand for another term following his unopposed re-election in 2011, there was widespread discontent when the 78-year-old revealed that he would contest the 2015 election in order to ‘continue his mission’. It is highly likely that he will be unopposed once more, as UEFA President Platini will not want to risk an almost certain defeat. Without any strong candidates willing to step out line under the Blatter regime, the corruption and controversy which Garcia has had to investigate, will only continue, and whitewash reports such as Eckert’s will mean that FIFA remains not guilty.
Michael Garcia is an American attorney with no connection to the world of football. He has worked for the Bush establishment and is no stranger to international corruption cases. He filed a 420-page report into alleged corruption in the bidding processes of 2018 and 2022, which was then analysed and condensed by German FIFA ethics judge Eckert. Eckert found that the Qatari and Russian bids had nothing to answer for, while slamming the England 2018 bid for ‘bribing’ FIFA Vice-President Jack Warner.
It only took Garcia four hours to slam the report, stating that it “contains numerous materially incomplete and erroneous representations of the facts and conclusions”. It then emerged that the computers used during the Russian bidding process had been ‘destroyed’ soon after the vote so a full investigation could not occur. The English bidding team feels that it is ‘being punished for cooperating’ with the report. The report also clears Qatari Bin Hammam, who reportedly received bribes to sway committee votes towards the Qatar bids, by stating the money received was to fund his FIFA presidential bid, and not the 2022 Qatar bid.
The Qatar World Cup, whether it be held in winter or summer, will be controversial up until and long after its completion.
FIFA and Eckert are now refusing to release Garcia’s full report as they feel this is ‘not necessary’, even with Garcia claiming that he is to lodge an appeal over the misuse of his work. The FBI now also intends to step up its corruption investigation into FIFA and its committee.
One thing is clear, however, from this investigation. The Qatar World Cup, whether it be held in winter or summer, will be controversial up until and long after its completion. Claims of corruption will never subside and, since this shambolic investigation by FIFA has come to light, rightly so.
FA Chairmen Greg Dyke claimed that the investigation was “a joke, a shambles and a complete farce”. His words could well be used to describe the FIFA organisation as a whole.
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