FIFA rejects Garcia appeal over corruption report

AFP| Last Updated: Dec 16, 2014, 19:33 PM IST
FIFA rejects Garcia appeal over corruption report

FIFA on Tuesday rejected an appeal by former US prosecutor Michael Garcia against the handling of his inquiry into alleged corruption around the Russian and Qatar bids for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

A FIFA appeal committee ruled that the request made by Garcia was "not admissible." It also turned down complaints by two people who gave evidence to Garcia`s inquiry that their cover had been blown by FIFA`s actions. 

Garcia, who spent 18 months investigating the World Cup votes won by Russia and Qatar in 2010, had complained that a summary of his report released by FIFA`s top judge Hans-Joachim Eckert was "incomplete and erroneous."

Eckert said in a summary of Garcia`s report that the inquiry had not uncovered evidence of corruption and that there should be no re-vote for the two World Cup finals.

The German judge also reaffirmed FIFA`s insistence that the full Garcia report could not be released to protect the identities of some people named by the inquiry.

FIFA said Eckert`s summary "does not constitute a decision and as such is neither legally binding nor appealable."

"The report neither cites any rule violations of an accused person, nor does it contain any kind of recommendation to the adjudicatory chamber for sanctioning an accused person," said a statement released by FIFA`s appeal committee.

Widespread allegations of corruption have been made, notably against Qatar. But the Gulf state has strongly denied any wrongdoing.

The battle of FIFA`s handling of the bids will be reopened on Thursday when the football governing body`s executive committee discusses Garcia`s report. It is to hold a vote on whether the report should be published in full.

The FIFA executive will hear a proposal submitted by Theo Zwanziger, former head of the German football association and a powerful critic of the decision to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.

Britain`s Daily Telegraph said Zwanziger wants a redacted version of the full Ethics Committee report published to protect the identities of witnesses who co-operated with Garcia.

A FIFA disciplinary committee also turned down appeals by two people who gave evidence to Garcia that their identities had been given away by Eckert.

FIFA did not name the two but they are believed to be Phaedra Almajid, who worked for the Qatar 2022 bid team until 2010, and Bonita Mersiades, who had worked for a rival Australian bid. They said that confidentiality guarantees had been breached in Eckert`s 42 page summary because they could be easily identified in the information given.

"FIFA`s Disciplinary Committee chairman has concluded that there were no grounds to justify the opening of disciplinary proceedings," said a statement.

The chairman ruled that as both "had gone public with their own media activities long before the publication of the statement of the chairman of the adjudicatory chamber Judge Eckert, the breach of confidentiality claim had no substance."