A summary of the findings of the long-awaited Report by the leading New York Lawyer, Michael Garcia, into the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cup bidding process, has just been published. The Report, which was submitted to FIFA on 5 September, 2014, is the result of a two-year investigation, in which Garcia interviewed 75 witnesses around the world
The Report, which looked at the conduct of all of the nine countries bidding for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, exonerates Russia and Qatar of the allegations of corruption made against them in connection with their bids for these tournaments, and also confirms the FIFA decisions to award them the rights of organising and staging FIFA’s flag ship event, the World Cup, in 2018 and 2022 respectively.
The Report concluded that payments of £3m by Mohamed bin Hammam, the former FIFA Vice President, were made in support of his political interests in Qatar and not to further the Qatar 2022 World Cup bid.
However, the English FA is criticised in the Report in connection with their bid for the 2018 World Cup rights, alleging lack of transparency and also trying to “curry favour” with the former FIFA Vice President, Jack Warner. This is denied by the FA. In a statement, they say that we “do not accept any criticism regarding the integrity of England’s bid or any of the individuals involved.”
The 430-page Report also criticised FIFA, calling for a “culture change” and recommending that FIFA should improve the bidding system for future World Cups, by adopting a “more open and transparent rotation system.”
The Report also stated that members of FIFA’s Executive Committee should be forbidden from visiting bidding nations and that they should also report any gifts that they had received. These, incidentally, are the procedures followed by the IOC for hosting the Olympics.
In a statement, FIFA welcomed the Report and its findings and recommendations, and added that they had “already revised the host selection process” to be followed for future World Cups. The final decision will be taken by the FIFA Congress and not by the FIFA Executive Committee.
Garcia has called for the full Report to be published with the names of the ‘whistle blowers’ redacted, but this does not seem likely.
He also announced that he will appeal to the FIFA Appeal Committee against the 42-page summary of Garcia’s findings, released on 13 November, 2014 by FIFA’s chief Judge and fellow-member of the FIFA Ethics Committee, Hans-Joachim Eckert, as his summary contains “numerous materially incomplete and erroneous representations of the facts and conclusions detailed …. in the Report.” For instance, it is understood that Garcia made criticisms in his Report about the culture and practices of many of the 24-man FIFA Executive Committee which chose the World Cup hosts and these were not included in Eckert’s summary!
Whatever next in this sordid and sad affair?
Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw is an International Sports Lawyer, Academic and Author and may be contacted by e-mail at ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’