22 August 2019
FIFA welcomes the ethics committee report clearing Russia and Qatar of corruption in their bids to host the World Cup. Photo: AFP
FIFA welcomes the ethics committee report clearing Russia and Qatar of corruption in their bids to host the World Cup. Photo: AFP

FIFA corruption report sparks furor

FIFA has cleared Russia and Qatar of corruption in their bids to host the World Cup, but its report only managed to fuel controversy.

The former US prosecutor who led the investigation by soccer’s governing body said on Thursday the report had misrepresented his findings, Reuters reported.

A German judge who ruled on behalf of FIFA’s ethics committee said he found no grounds sufficient to re-open the bidding process for the 2018 cup in Russia and the 2022 cup in Qatar.

But Michael Garcia, hired by FIFA to head an investigation into the bids that lasted more than a year, said he would appeal against the committee’s conclusion.

“Today’s decision by the chairman of the adjudicatory chamber contains numerous materially incomplete and erroneous representations of the facts and conclusions detailed in the investigatory chamber’s report,” Garcia was quoted as saying.

The report, while clearing Qatar and Russia, accused the English Football Association of flouting bid rules, BBC News reported.

The FA allegedly to “curry favor” with former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner, who quit in 2011 amid bribery allegations.

“It’s a bit of a joke, the whole process,” FA chairman Greg Dyke told BBC Sport, adding that it looked “pretty ugly for FIFA”.

“The whole of the way football operates at that sort of level is suspect and has been for many years. I don’t think FIFA is a straight organization and hasn’t been for many years.”

FIFA and Qatar World Cup organizers have been fending off allegations of corruption ever since the tiny Gulf state was awarded the 2022 tournament, Reuters said. Qatar has little domestic soccer tradition and its desert climate is widely seen as too hot for the game to be played in summer when the cup is normally staged.

Denying any wrongdoing, Qatar says it would be good for the world’s most popular sporting event to be staged in the soccer-mad Middle East.

Russia was awarded the 2018 cup on the same day in a dual bidding process that ended in 2010.

Garcia was hired by FIFA to look into allegations of bribes paid and favors given to the international soccer officials who made the decisions.

But instead of issuing his own report, Garcia presented his findings to FIFA, which issued its own ruling.

Garcia did not give any further details about the errors he said had been made in the summary of his findings, delivered by ethics committee chief adjudicator Hans-Joachim Eckert.

Eckert, for his part, ruled that any improprieties uncovered by Garcia were too minor to require new bidding.

“The effects of these occurrences on the bidding process as a whole were far from reaching any threshold that would require returning to the bidding process, let alone reopening it,” Eckert said in a statement.

“The assessment of the 2018/2022 FIFA World Cups bidding process is therefore closed for the FIFA Ethics Committee.”

FIFA welcomed Eckert’s report and said it was looking forward to continuing the preparations for Russia 2018 and Qatar 2022.

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