(WFI) The report by FIFA’s chief investigator Michael Garcia into alleged ethics violations in the World Cup bidding process appears to have been delayed yet again.
His dossier was due to be handed over to the adjudicatory chamber of FIFA’s ethics committee “by the first week of September”, according to a FIFA statement to INSIDER on July 21. Garcia began compiling his report in the second week of June following the FIFA Congress and had first been expected to be submitted to FIFA’s ethics judge Hans-Joachim Eckert by the end of July.
Today, Garcia’s law firm Kirkland & Ellis LLP would neither confirm or deny if Garcia’s report was delayed. No updates on timing, was the word from his New York office.
Meanwhile, FIFA told INSIDER that it had no idea if the report was complete and if it would be delivered on time.
“As you know, the Ethics Committee is independent and therefore we cannot provide you with a timeframe of their decisions in any matter,” a FIFA spokeswoman told INSIDER.
Yet a similar FIFA statement to INSIDER in July was quickly followed by another issued on behalf of the ethics committee confirming the September delivery.
Today’s FIFA’s statement to INSIDER was careful to point out the procedure relating to the next steps in the World Cup bidding probe.
“We refer you to the FIFA Code of Ethics. The investigatory chamber of the independent FIFA Ethics Committee hands over its report on the investigation proceedings to the adjudicatory chamber of the Ethics Committee,” FIFA’s spokeswoman said.
“The adjudicatory chamber shall then review the investigation files and render a decision. Please note that in accordance with art. 36 of the Code of Ethics only the final decision of the adjudicatory chamber may be made public.”
Garcia, a former US attorney, has spent nearly two years investigating claims of ethics breaches and vote trading in the farcical parallel bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups that FIFA president
Sepp Blatter later branded a big mistake.
Amid claims and counter-claims of impropriety that tarnished some of the nine bids, Russia and Qatar secured hosting rights. The Gulf state has strongly denied the bribery claims that cast a cloud over its bid victory, and subsequent allegations that have been published by the likes of the Sunday Times.
Garcia’s recommendations for sanctions, which may never be released publicly, could include stripping Qatar of the World Cup. But more likely Garcia will suggest sanctioning individuals behind ethics breaches, if indeed he has enough concrete evidence to do so.
The report’s delay comes a few days after UEFA president Michel Platini decided not to run against Sepp Blatter in the FIFA presidential race.
At the FIFA Congress in Sao Paulo in June, Garcia said his ethics investigation team had interviewed every bid team and all FIFA ExCo members who cast votes for World Cup bids, or attempted to do so, and reviewed “tens of thousands” of documents. “We believe we will produce a report that is comprehensive and fair to all parties,” he added.
It’s possible that FIFA may want to make a real statement about the World Cup bidding investigation at the first World Summit on Ethics at its headquarters in Zurich on Sept. 19.
Blatter, painting himself as a moderniser and reformer ahead of his almost certain re-election next May, is opening the conference. Garcia and Eckert are also attending. Whether FIFA’s ethics judge will have received Garcia’s dossier on World Cup corruption by then, or had time to examine the report to make his judgements public at the ethics summit is open to question.
FIFA’s ExCo meets a week later when an update on the World Cup bidding investigation is expected to be on the agenda.
By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson
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