FIFA World Cup Qatar announcement

FIFA report into corruption questioned by lawyer who led investigation

Before you read any further, let me clarify that this is not an article from The Onion or Daily Mash. This is actually happening, and you couldn’t make it up.

Two years ago, FIFA commissioned former US federal prosecutor Michael Garcia to conduct an inquiry into claims of corruption during the bidding processes for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. These tournaments were controversially awarded to Russia and Qatar, to the disbelief of millions of fans around the world.

Following his lengthy investigation, FIFA today published the report. Somewhat surprisingly, it completely cleared the Russian and Qatari bidding teams of any wrongdoing, while also accusing some of the losing bidding teams on breaking the rules.

FIFA triumphantly claimed that provided “closure” over the bidding process. However, within hours Garcia stated that the report “contains numerous materially incomplete and erroneous representations”.

Here’s what appears to have happened. Garcia conducted his investigation and gave his findings to FIFA. They didn’t like the findings, so Hans-Joachim Eckert, FIFA’s independent ethics adjudicator and the man responsible for writing up the report, edited it accordingly but still published it under Garcia’s name. Garcia read the report (perhaps FIFA were hoping he wouldn’t) and immediately called them out.

Garcia has said he will appeal Eckert’s report to the FIFA ethics committee, which is chaired by…Eckert.

Simon Johnson, who led the England 2018 bid, described the latest twist as “farcical”, adding “Before that statement by Mr Garcia, I was saying that it’s very difficult to have confidence in the conclusions of Mr Eckert’s report and that it looked like a politically motivated whitewash. Now that I have seen Mr Garcia’s statement, I am absolutely convinced that the report is a politically motivated whitewash.”

There have now been numerous calls for FIFA to publish Garcia’s report in full. British MP and Shadow Minister for Sport Clive Efford said “FIFA has no choice but to publish Michael Garcia’s report in full if it expects anyone to believe their claims that there has been no cover-up over allegations of corruption in the World Cup bidding process”.

To many, this latest saga is just further confirmation that FIFA is a corrupt organisation with absolutely no intention of doing anything about it. The furore over this report will go on, but you can bet your bottom dollar that the next two World Cups will be held in Russia and Qatar, and Sepp Blatter will soon be elected for yet another term as FIFA President.

At least Twitter was able to have some fun at FIFA’s expense!

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Greg Bortkiewicz