Hans-Joachim Eckert’s summary of Michael Garcia’s report on corruption in bidding for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups have been released and it’s as expected from yesterday. Russia and Qatar have been cleared of wrongdoing, and pretty much every other country is to blame.
We only got the 42 page summary of the 430 page Garcia report, because…well that’s FIFA being FIFA. FIFA claims it is withholding the entire document due to legal reasons and not wanting to reveal whistleblowers.
Garcia took FIFA to task today blasting the summary and plans to appeal to FIFA (good luck there).
“Today’s decision by the Chairman of the Adjudicatory Chamber contains numerous materially incomplete and erroneous representations of the facts and conclusions detailed in the Investigatory Chamber’s report,” said Garcia, via The Guardian in the UK.
Garcia has suggested that the entire report be published with names redacted because that’s common sense.
One unlikely supporter of Garcia is UEFA President Michel Platini. Platini has had his own share of controversy and corruption, but he wants the report to be published in full.
FIFA isn’t out of the woods yet, as the FBI may go forward with their investigation on corruption within the world governing body.
Anyway, back to the Garcia Report. As it has been said, the actual report hasn’t been released but a summary of the report. Here are the highlights of that summary.
– The first 18 out of 42 pages are filled with introductory information explaining what FIFA is, what they do, what the bid process is, who was asked to participate and who cooperated etc. So this is off to a good start.
– A member of the Australian bid committee had information and granted access of their computer to FIFA to provide information on emails. This person provided information but found that “the evidence did not support its specific recollections and allegations.” So in essence, this persons story didn’t match up to the emails. This person also “undermined its own reliability by speaking with the press about its communications with the Investigatory Chamber, despite having agreed to refrain from doing so to protect the integrity of the ongoing investigation.” Because of that, this persons evidence was invalid in their final report unless it was confirmed by other sources.
– Australia was found guilty of trying to gain support from a FIFA Executive Committee member and tried to conceal that relationship.
– The summary shows how Australia was trying to buy votes. “There are indications that the Australia 2022 bid team attempted to direct the funds the Australian government had set aside for existing development projects in Africa toward initiatives in countries with ties to FIFA Executive Committee members with the intention to advance its bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup.”
– The Belgium/Holland bid committee was found to be “fully compliant and cooperative” and FIFA found no issues with their bid.
– The England bid committee was “fully compliant and cooperative” in FIFA’s investigation but FIFA found issues within their bid. England tried to gain the support of FIFA Vice President and CONCACAF President, Jack Warner in exchange for his vote and Warner using his influence to entice other people to vote for England to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup. England went so far as to be willing to help Warner’s Trinidad and Tobago league team, Joe Public Football Club. Pretty much, England talked to Warner, Warner took advantage of England and asked for everything because he had all the power and England went along with it because they were in too deep. FIFA will see to pursue penalties against England for their role.
– The Japan bid committee provided “valuable cooperation in establishing the relevant facts and circumstances.” Japan provided gifts to FIFA Executive Committee members and their wives that “ranged from approximately $700 to $2,000 each.” The summary does suggest clearer rules regarding gifts and the bid process.
– The South Korea bid committee cooperated by providing evidence and made witnesses available when requested. South Korea brought up the idea of a “Global Football Fund” that would raise money and be given to nations to “build new football infrastructure and renovate existing facilities.” The report viewed this as a conflict of interest and an attempt to influence votes because they pledged to donate $777 million to this “Global Football Fund” the day before the vote was supposed to take place.
– The Qatar bid committee provided “full and valuable cooperation in establishing the relevant facts and circumstances.” The report claims that “the conduct of two individuals who acted as consultants or advisors to the Qatar 2022 bid team raised concerns in the light of relevant FIFA ethics rules.” The report makes it sound like these people weren’t an official part of Qatar’s bid committee so they can’t be charged.
– FIFA felt it was necessary to mention the “Aspire Academy for Sports Excellence.” The Aspire Academy was formed in 2003 and and is a “centerpiece of Qatar’s efforts to develop an internationally recognized sports program.”
– A friendly between Argentina and Brazil in Doha, Qatar in November 2010 was financed “by a Qatari business conglomerate.” It was shown that the company had no connection with the Qatar bid committee and the Qatar FA and this business paid Argentina and Brazil a fee “comparable to fees paid for other matches featuring similarly elite teams.”
– Qatar bid committee paid $1.8 million to sponsor the CAF Congress in Angola. This was legal because “Confederations are technically independent from FIFA.”
– Mohamed Bin Hamman, who is currently banned from FIFA due to corruption and bribery, supported Qatar’s bid and “mad several different improper payments to high-ranking CAF football officials during the time before the December 2, 2010 FIFA Executive Committee vote.” The report determined that the payments weren’t for the Qatar 2022 bid but “to influence (CAF member’s) votes in the June 2011 election for FIFA President where he was a candidate.”
– There was a “whistleblower” who provided information about Qatar’s bid but was deemed uncredible because they went public with the allegations and then backtracked when making a statement. They also suspected revenge because this person was part of a bid that lost.
– The Russia bid committee was available for a limited time and many of their computers were destroyed. “The bid committee also attempted to gain access to the Gmail accounts used during the bidding process from Google.” Google didn’t respond as of August 1, 2014. Couldn’t the bid committee just give FIFA the password associated to the accounts?
– The USA bid committee provided “full and valuable cooperation in establishing the relevant facts and circumstances.” The report states that a “then FIFA Executive Committee member alluded to the fact that the United States might have attempted to influence member associations within the Asian Football Confederation to support the USA 2022 bid by spreading incorrect rumors relating to China’s potential bid to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup.”
– There are “discrepancies in the documentation and contact reports submitted by the USA 2022 bid committee to FIFA…and testimonies of US football officials on the other.”
– USA bid committee provided gifts and benefits “of a symbolic nature” and within the rules of FIFA regulations.
– It was shown that the USA voted for hosts based on “strategic voting” and voting based on reasons other than merit. The fact that the votes for the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups happened at the same time, provided that form of collusion and rules have changed preventing multiple World Cup votes to take place on the same day.
– There’s also a section at the end for recommendations for future votes including term limits, limits on travel to bidding nations and revising the rotation system among other things.
The entire summary is detailed in some parts and very light on others. All in all, it didn’t give any answers and really just raised more questions. Like I said before, if the full Garcia Report won’t be released by FIFA, hopefully someone leaks it. Everything gets leaked at some point, hopefully we’ll have a clearer picture of everything if that happens.