KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- FIFA has published the contentious Garcia Report into the scandal-scarred 2018/2022 World Cup bid process after being pushed to the point of ridicule by its leak to German newspaper Bild.
American attorney Garcia was appointed as the world football federation’s first ethics investigator with a priority to examine events which led up to the tournament awards by the executive committee in December 2010. FIFA would published only a summary, by then ethics judge Hans-Joachim Eckert, and Garcia quit in anger in 2014.
Today/Tuesday Bild began to serialise extracts from a leaked copy of the report, focusing in particular on manoeuvrings behind the scenes including flights, mysterious payments and the influence, on Qatar’s behalf, of the Aspire sports academy in Doha.
Eckert plus Garcia’s deputy and then successor Cornel Borbely were sacked from their ethics chamber roles at the behest of president Gianni Infantino at FIFA Congress last month in Bahrain.
Hence the first significant act undertaken by new investigator Maria Claudia Rojas and adjudicatory chief Vassilios Skouris – from Colombia and Greece respectively – has been to order immediate publication of the 430-page report.
A FIFA statement said:
“[Publication] had been called for on numerous occasions by FIFA president Gianni Infantino in the past and also supported by the FIFA Council since its meeting in Mexico City in May 2016.
“Despite these regular requests, it is worth noting that the former chairpersons of the ethics committee, Cornel Borbély and Hans-Joachim Eckert, had always refused to publish it.
“The ethics committee will meet in its full composition under the new chairpersons for the first time next week, and it was already planned to use this opportunity to discuss the publication of the report.
“However, as the document has been illegally leaked to a German newspaper, the new chairpersons have requested the immediate publication of the full report (including the reports on the Russian and US bid teams, which were conducted by Mr Borbély alone) in order to avoid the dissemination of any misleading information.
“For the sake of transparency, FIFA welcomes the news that this report has now been finally published.”
The report will be read with particular interest in relation not only to Qatar but to Russia which is currently staging the Confederations Cup, the warm-up tournament ahead of next year’s World Cup staging.