ZURICH: The wish of IFA’s ethics investigator to visit all bidding natins from the scandal-hit 2018 and 2022 campaigns will not be accomplished without difficulty writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Michael J Garcia, appointed in 2012 as the world’s federation’s independent investigator-cum-prosecutor is currently barred from entry to Russia, the 2018 host.
Ever since his appointment Garcia has insisted that the simultaneous bidding controversy was one of the files on his desk. Qatar has been the subject of a long campaign of vilification from critics beyond the Arab world.
This was fed, in part, by a private email in which FIFA secretary-general Jerome Valcke had referred to Qatar having ‘bought’ the World Cup; later he clarified that he was commenting only on the Gulf state’s heavy promotional expenditure.
The anti-Qatar lobby has been refreshed by the twin-track rows which have erupted in the last few few months over both the timing of the finals and the death toll provoked by inadequate workers’ rights.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter has spoken about ‘political influence’ on the exco voters. FIFA had made this inevitable by its bid demands for government guarantees while running two campaigns simultaneously encouraged vote bargaining.
Widespread reports had surfaced of an agreement for Qatar to put its influence behind the vain 2018 bid from Spain/Portugal with the Spanish lobby swinging behind Qatar for 2022.
Garcia has indicated that wants to speak to all nine 2018 and 2022 bidding nations with England a possible first stop next week. In fact, initially almost all the nations registered an interest in both tournaments; it was only comparatively late in the process that the division was agreed between 2018 for Europe and 2022 for the rest of the world.
All these interwoven complications mean that the Qatar vote cannot be unpicked without also unpicking the vote for Russia. Both contracts have been signed and sealed and early infrastructural work launched.
For this, as much as other reasons, Garcia is hardly likely to receive much help from Russia.
The former US Attorney was one of 18 people named on a list of Americans barred from entering Russia over what Moscow said were human rights abuses.
Garcia was involved in the arrest and charging of Viktor Bout, a Russian, who is serving a 25-year prison sentence in the US for arms trafficking.