Update (3:33 p.m. ET): Longtime FIFA President Sepp Blatter addressed Garcia's resignation in a statement Wednesday. "I am surprised by Mr. Garcia's decision. The work of the ethics committee will nonetheless continue and will be a central part of the discussions at the [Executive Committee] meeting in the next two days," he said. The ExCo will name an interim chairman in Garcia's stead.
Investigator Michael Garcia resigned his post Wednesday as the independent chairman of FIFA’s Ethics Committee. Garcia cited dissatisfaction with FIFA’s handling of his report into corruption allegations related to the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding processes – specifically, Adjudicatory Chamber Chairman Hans-Joachim Eckert’s 42-page statement on his findings – as the catalyst for his resignation.
“No independent governance committee, investigator, or arbitration panel can change the culture of an organization. And while the November 13, 2014, Eckert Decision made me lose confidence in the independence of the Adjudicatory Chamber, it is the lack of leadership on these issues within FIFA that leads me to conclude that my role in this process is at an end,” Garcia said in a statement.
Garcia spearheaded a lengthy FIFA investigation into allegations that top officials were bribed to approve Russia and Qatar’s respective bids for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. The investigation concluded in November, but FIFA opted not to make its findings public, despite calls for transparency by Garcia and other top officials.
Shortly after Garcia submitted his report, Eckert released a statement that acknowledged Garcia and his investigators had uncovered questionable behavior related to the World Cup bidding process, but nothing serious enough to strip Russia or Qatar of hosting rights. Any offenses were “far from reaching any threshold that would require returning to the bidding process, let alone reopening it,” Eckert wrote.
Garcia immediately said that Eckert’s statement “contains numerous materially incomplete and erroneous representations of the facts and conclusions detailed in the Investigatory Chamber’s report” and announced his intention to appeal Eckert’s findings. But FIFA dismissed Garcia’s complaint Tuesday, ruling his call for appeal was inadmissible, as Eckert’s summary of the report was not a legally binding decision.
Garcia said his concerns over the composition of Eckert’s summary “went far beyond” his initial trepidations about FIFA’s unwillingness to publish his report in its entirety. He disagreed with FIFA’s statement that Eckert’s decision did not constitute the international governing body’s official stance on his report.
“It now appears that, at least for the foreseeable future, the Eckert Decision will stand as the final word on the 2018/2022 FIFA World Cup bidding process,” Garcia added. FIFA officials did not immediately comment on Garcia's resignation.