Fifa has maintained it will not re-open the voting process for the hosting rights to the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, but president Sepp Blatter said that the confidential report into the bidding process for football’s showpiece events will be published in part.
Following a meeting of Fifa’s Executive Committee today (Friday) in Marrakech, Morocco, Blatter said the decisions would allow football’s global governing body to move on from four years of controversy. “We have been in a crisis,” Blatter admitted. “The crisis has stopped because we again have the unity in our governance.”
Blatter stated there is “no legal grounds to revoke the executive committee’s decision (in 2010) on the award of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.” He added: “It would really need an earthquake, extremely important new elements to go back on this World Cup in Qatar.”
However, the Swiss added that Fifa can publish – at least in part – the 430-page report into the bidding contest by ethics prosecutor Michael Garcia despite initially insisting it must remain confidential. Garcia, chairman of the Investigatory Chamber of the Fifa Ethics Committee, yesterday stepped down from his position a day after his complaints over the report into allegations of corruption during the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups were dismissed by Fifa.
The American lawyer and former US Attorney cited a “lack of leadership” in the upper echelons of Fifa in his resignation statement. He also indicated he had lost faith in Hans-Joachim Eckert, the head of the Fifa ethics committee’s adjudicatory chamber.
Garcia, who spent two years investigating the claims for Fifa, claimed that Eckert’s 42-page summary of the report’s findings into the bidding process for Russia 2018 and Qatar 2022 was “incomplete and erroneous.” Garcia appealed to Fifa’s Appeal Committee, which said on Wednesday that the complaint was “not admissible.” Fifa added that Eckert’s summary was “neither legally binding nor appealable.”
Garcia maintained that the report from himself and Cornel Borbely, the deputy chair of the Investigatory Chamber, identified “serious and wide-ranging issues” with the bidding and selection process. Blatter today said there was a unanimous agreement from the Fifa Executive Committee on Friday to publish the report “in an appropriate form once the ongoing procedures against individuals are concluded.” However, he added that it can only be published once Fifa’s strict secrecy rules have been satisfied and the investigations opened against five people have been closed.
Garcia opened proceedings against three current Fifa Executive Committee members following his probe into the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. Spain’s Angel Maria Villar Llona, Michel D’Hooghe from Belgium and Worawi Makudi from Thailand are among the names being looked at for possible ethics code breaches. Former Executive Committee member, German national team legend Franz Beckenbauer, is also under investigation by Garcia along with Chilean Harold Mayne-Nicholls, who led the inspection team which compiled reports into the countries bidding for the hosting rights won by Russia and Qatar. If any of the five are found guilty of wrongdoing they can appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) – a development which would potentially further delay publication of Garcia’s report.
Blatter added: “The work over the past two years of the investigatory committee led by Mr. Garcia has played a valuable role in ensuring that Fifa rules are upheld and has resulted in a series of sanctions against individuals. Although we are disappointed that our work with Mr. Garcia has ended this way, I want to make it clear that our commitment to ethical standards is stronger than ever. As such I am pleased that the FIFA Executive Committee today appointed Cornel Borbély as acting chairman of the investigatory chamber of the independent Ethics Committee. Mr. Borbély will be responsible for leading the ongoing procedures and ensuring that they are pursued to the fullest extent.”
Blatter added that a new chairman will be elected at the Fifa Congress on May 29 in Zurich.