FIFA Committee Rejects Michael Garcia's Appeal Against Ethics Committee Findings
Michael Garcia's appeal against the findings of ethics committee chairman Hans-Joachim Eckert is not admissible, FIFA's appeal committee has announced
Garcia, a former US Attorney, was tasked by FIFA to investigate the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup tournaments. A 42-page summary of his findings was published by Judge Eckert last month.
But in an extraordinary twist, Garcia appealed Eckert's summary and said it contained “numerous materially incomplete and erroneous representations”.
That appeal has now been declared inadmissible by FIFA's appeals committee, who said Eckert's statement was not a legally-binding decision and therefore could not be appealed against.
A spokesperson for Garcia said he had “just received the decision and is reviewing it. We have no further comment at this time”.
Eckert's statement said any rule breaches by the bidding countries were “of very limited scope”, adding: “In particular, 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.”
A FIFA statement released on Tuesday afternoon said their appeal committee had concluded that the appeal lodged by Garcia “is not admissible”.
It added: “The said statement about the report on the inquiry into the 2018/2022 FIFA World Cup bidding process does not constitute a decision and as such is neither legally binding nor appealable.”
FIFA president Sepp Blatter has arrived in Marrakesh ahead of Thursday and Friday's crucial Executive Committee meeting.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter met Domenico Scala, FIFA's top compliance official, earlier on Tuesday in their Marrakesh hotel, but only as a formality before the Audit & Compliance meeting – they did not discuss Garcia's report.
Blatter was asked by Sky Sports News HQ's chief news reporter Bryan Swanson on Tuesday morning whether the game's top officials will receive Garcia's report in full this week.
“I am going to prepare this meeting now with the president of the confederation.” said Blatter. “Then I will be able to give some information. I have just arrived here.”
Meanwhile, complaints by two World Cup bid whistleblowers that their cover had been blown by Eckert's findings have also been rejected.
Phaedra Almajid, who was head of international media for the Qatar 2022 bid team before losing her job in 2010, and Bonita Mersiades, who worked for Australia's 2022 bid, complained that promises of confidentiality had been breached because his findings contained more than enough information to make them easily identifiable.
Almajid was one of 70 witnesses who spoke anonymously to Garcia during his investigation, providing information, documents, data and recordings which she claimed proved corruption during the bidding process for the 2022 World Cup.
She told Sky in November how she was fearing for her life and that the FBI was protecting her following her allegations over the Qatar bid.
Almajid revealed her frustrations at FIFA's decision in a statement on Tuesday which read: “The conclusion of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee dismissing my complaint against Herr Eckert for breaching my confidentiality is a transparent avoidance of a clear violation of its own rules.
“I cooperated with Mr Garcia's investigation for over two-and-a-half years under a clear, unqualified promise of confidentiality. He asked me for my confidentiality and repeatedly promised me mine. I kept my promise. Herr Eckert breached that confidentiality. I did not. The Disciplinary Committee's avoidance of this undisputable violation is emblematic of its culture of self-protection.”
Many people within football have urged FIFA to publish the report in full with Football Association chairman Greg Dyke calling in November for “urgent action”.