International soccer governing body FIFA has dismissed separate complaints by former ethics prosecutor Michael Garcia and a pair of whistleblowers in connection to the recently concluded investigation into the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding process. FIFA committees ruled Tuesday that Garcia’s complaint wasn't admissible and whistleblowers’ complaints that their identities were illegally disclosed were without basis.
“The FIFA Appeal Committee, chaired by Larry Mussenden, has concluded that the appeal lodged by the chairman of the investigatory chamber, Michael J. Garcia, against the statement of the chairman of the adjudicatory chamber of the independent Ethics Committee, Hans-Joachim Eckert, is not admissible,” FIFA said in a statement.
Garcia, a U.S.-based lawyer, criticized Eckert in November for his 42-page summary of the investigatory chamber’s 430-page report into allegations of corruption surrounding Qatar and Russia’s successful bids for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. Eckert’s summary cleared both nations of wrongdoing significant enough to strip their World Cup hosting rights.
Garcia said Eckert’s summary “contain[ed] numerous materially incomplete and erroneous representations of the facts and conclusions” of his report. However, FIFA denied the bid for appeal on the grounds that Eckert’s summary wasn't a legally binding decision.
In a separate decision, FIFA’s Disciplinary Committee chairman ruled Eckert wouldn't be punished for allegedly compromising the identities of whistleblowers Phaedra Almajid and Bonita Mersiades, who provided testimony to Garcia’s investigation under condition of anonymity. Neither individual was identified by name, but they said in a joint statement that they were “clearly identifiable” in Eckert’s statement, the BBC reported.
“The chairman reviewed all provided material and stressed that since the participants in the investigation had gone public with their own media activities long before the publication of the statement of the chairman of the adjudicatory chamber Judge Eckert, the breach of confidentiality claim had no substance,” FIFA said in a statement.
Both women worked in communications for their countries' 2022 bids and left before the December 2010 vote. Mersiades worked for the Australia campaign. Almajid, a former member of Qatar’s World Cup media team, told the BBC in November that Qatari officials coerced her into retracting corruption allegations against them. She said she would “look over [her] shoulder for the rest of [her] life.”