ZURICH: Both FIFA executive member Sunil Gulati and presidential challenge Jerome Champagne have used the same term in reaction to the resignation of ethics investigator Michael Garcia writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
The American attorney quit after a FIFA rejection of his protest at judge Hans-Joachim Eckert’s World Cup bid scandal report proved the last straw in his increasing dissatisfaction at opposition to his work.
Gulati, president of the United States Soccer Federation, was a member of reformer Mark Pieth’s independent governance committee before being elected to the executive committee.
The 55-year-old, who also heads the world federation’s media committee, said “I am very disappointed that Mr Garcia felt he had no alternative but to resign. It’s certainly a step backward in the process of trying to bring positive change to FIFA.”
Similar phraseology was employed by Champagne, the former French diplomat who held senior roles at FIFA before being ousted in January 2010. He also described Garcia’s departure as “a backward step.”
Champagne, who has declared himself a presidential runner against incumbent Sepp Blatter next May, added: “We needed to know what happened before and after the December 2, 2010, vote. Today more than ever we need to know.
“When will the facts be known fully, transparently and above all without suspicion? When will we be able to start rebuilding FIFA’s image? And we need to protect the World Cup.”
UEFA president Michel Platini, already on record as wanting Blatter to retire from the presidency, assessed the latest twist as “a new failure for FIFA.”
US Senator demands publication
FIFA should still change its corporate mind and go ahead and publish Garcia’s full report, albeit appropriately redacted to protect identities of witnesses submitting sensitive evidence according to Democrat US Senator Bob Casey, the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety.
Casey said: “Michael Garcia was a strong voice for accountability and transparency in an organization famously lacking either.
“His resignation is understandable following repeated obstruction from FIFA to stifle his report on the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
“FIFA should release the entire report to answer the many questions raised about the process that saw the U.S. lose its bid for the 2022 World Cup.”
The US FBI has reportedly been delving into FIFA and international football finance for the past two years. This has prompted questions about the fact that FIFA president Blatter has not set foot in the US since 2011.