KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS —- Anti-corruption campaigner Sylvia Schenk believes world federation FIFA “is crumbling before our eyes” after the shock resignation of ethics investigator Michael Garcia.
The United States attorney walked out on football’s governing body on Wednesday after a series of political reverses culminating in the rejection by FIFA’s appeals committee of his protest against the “erroneous” summary of his work by ethics judge Hans-Joachim Eckert.
Garcia had spent two years, at a cost of around £6m, investigating the 2018-2022 World Cup bid scandal. The inquiry now appears dead in the water after the former Interpol vice-president’s retreat back across the Atlantic.
Schenk, head of the sports monitoring section of Transparency International, has long been a critic of FIFA and its president Sepp Blatter.
In the wake of Garcia’s departure she said: “This proves once again that president Blatter has lost his grip . . . FIFA is crumbling before our eyes.”
Schenk, according to German sports agency SID, was also critical of Bavarian judge Eckert for the content of his controversial 42-page summary of Garcia’s substantive report.
She echoed a complaint from bid whistleblower Phaedra Almajid of Qatar and Australian Bonita Mersiades that Eckert had breached guarantees of confidentiality from Garcia.
Blatter, for all the latest chaos, remains favourite to win re-election next May for a fifth term of FIFA president. Schenk suggested that FIFA’s member associations would be committing sports politics suicide if they allowed him to carry on.
She said: “Re-electing a 79-year-old who has been shown in the last four years that he cannot bring either credibility or calm to FIFA would be ]hara-kiri.”
Jim Boyce, the Ulsterman who is British vice-president of FIFA, has acknowledged that Garcia’s departure has brought the organisation’s credibility to a new low, adding: “I don’t think there’s any doubt about that.”
On Friday’s second day of the current FIFA executive committee in Marrakech a proposal will be considered from German Theo Zwanziger to publish a redacted version of the report under possible ‘retrospective legislation.’
Boyce supports publication. He addd: “I have always said that as much of this report as is legally possible should be put in the public domain and until that is done it’s not going to go away.
“I will vote that as much as can be legally published should be published. If people have nothing to hide why are they afraid of something being issued?”
How many exco members may vote is uncertain. Previous consideration of the issue was restricted by Blatter to only those members who were in the exco at the time of the 2018-2022 bid vote on December 2, 2010. Half the members then are no longer serving.