The ethics prosecutor who spearheaded FIFA’s investigation into allegations of corruption surrounding the World Cup has accused FIFA ethics judge Hans-Joachim Eckert of misleading the public when he cleared Russia and Qatar of wrongdoing that would have reopened bidding on the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. The judge's findings were published in a 42-page summary on Thursday.
“Today’s decision by the Chairman of the Adjudicatory Chamber contains numerous materially incomplete and erroneous representations of the facts and conclusions detailed in the Investigatory Chamber’s report,” Michael J. Garcia said in a statement. “I intend to appeal this decision to the FIFA Appeal Committee.”
Garcia’s statement was released just hours after Eckert announced a formal end to FIFA’s corruption probe into “potentially problematic conduct” among bidding countries, including bribery and voting pacts. “The evaluation of the 2018/2022 FIFA World Cups bidding process is closed for the FIFA Ethics Committee,” Eckert said.
Eckert noted that Garcia’s investigators outlined evidence of questionable behavior in their 430-page report, but nothing serious enough to strip Russia and Qatar of their World Cup bids. Garcia’s findings were “far from reaching any threshold that would require returning to the bidding process, let alone reopening it,” he wrote. Eckert singled out England’s failed 2018 World Cup bid for his harshest criticism and claimed that English soccer officials behaved in a way that was “damaging” to the World Cup bidding process.
FIFA released a statement Thursday morning in support of the report’s findings. “FIFA welcomes the fact that a degree of closure has been reached,” soccer’s international governing body said. "As such, FIFA looks forward to continuing preparations for Russia 2018 and Qatar 2022, which are already well underway."
Garcia criticized FIFA in September for not making his report public. FIFA President Sepp Blatter claimed that an ethics code prevented the organization from releasing the report.