The investigator who led a probe into the award of the next two Fifa World Cup said he will appeal a decision that cleared Russia and Qatar to remain hosts.
Former US attorney Michael Garcia said that a summary released on Thursday contained “numerous materially incomplete and erroneous representations of the facts and conclusions” and he would take his complaints to the appeals committee of soccer’s governing body.While the investigation by Fifa’s ethics committee found that some bidders gave excess gifts or complied with improper requests for funds or jobs ahead of the December 2010 vote, the violations were not enough to reopen the process, according to a summary report.
“The occurrences at issue were, in the chairman’s assessment, only of very limited scope,” said German judge Hans-Joachim Eckert, who reviewed Garcia’s evidence. “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.”
England’s Football Association, which along with joint bids from Netherlands-Belgium and Spain-Portugal lost out to Russia in voting for the 2018 event, received some of the strongest criticism. Former Fifa executives, Jack Warner and Mohamed Bin Hammam, were also singled out for improper behaviour.
Garcia presented the report to Fifa in September and called for it to be published in full with the names of witnesses redacted, a call rejected by Eckert. His summary said individuals may still face penalties from Fifa.
“We do not accept any criticism regarding the integrity of England’s bid or any of the individuals involved,” the Football Association said in a statement on its website. “We conducted a transparent bid and willingly complied with the investigation.”
Qatar organisers said they co-operated and “continue to believe that a fair and appropriate review will demonstrate the integrity and quality of our bid”.
The Football Federation of Australia also said its bid team co-operated fully and it will review the statement before making any further comment.
“The countries that have come out the worst in the report are the ones that have been most transparent,” said Borja Garcia, a lecturer in sports management and policy at Loughborough University in England who is a member of the European Commission’s sports policy group. “Qatar and Russia have a lot less criticism” than England’s FA.
The choices of Russia and particularly Qatar, a desert state with no soccer culture, led to allegations of corruption.