World Cup controversy takes another twist as FIFA lodges criminal complaint

Just when we thought the bizzare story of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding process couldn’t get any stranger. Just a day after releasing a report on the full investigation headed by Michael Garcia, FIFA has now turned over that report for criminal prosecution by the Swiss Attorney General.

The world governing body issued the following statement about criminal prosecutions:

Following the statement issued by the chairman of the adjudicatory chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee, Hans-Joachim Eckert, on the report by the chairman and deputy chairman of the investigatory chamber, Judge Eckert has recommended to the FIFA President – in line with the FIFA Code of Ethics – that a criminal complaint be lodged with the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland in Berne. This criminal complaint has been lodged today. The subject of the criminal complaint is the possible misconduct of individual persons in connection with the awarding of the hosting rights of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups investigated by Michael Garcia, chairman of the investigatory chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee. In particular there seem to be grounds for suspicion that, in isolated cases, international transfers of assets with connections to Switzerland took place, which merit examination by the criminal prosecution authorities. The reports compiled by Michael Garcia and Cornel Borbély will be made available to the Office of the Attorney General via Hans-Joachim Eckert.

Unlike FIFA’s bodies, the Swiss criminal prosecution authorities have the ability to conduct investigations under application of criminal procedural coercive measures.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter also had a statement for the public following this announcement. He told Dan Roan of BBC Sport the following:

With FIFA going after criminal prosecutions, one has to wonder how the heck they could’ve cleared both the 2018 Russia and 2022 Qatar World Cup bids, yet still bring criminal charges against other individuals.

The world governing body is now asking us to believe that only the losing bids were involved with possibly illegal activity. If that’s the case I’ve got some island property in South Dakota to sell you Mr. Blatter.

This whole thing just smells of FIFA not wanting to admit their mistakes and just how rotten to the core the organization truly is. If anything, this latest move serves to prove that FIFA cares only about protecting those in higher positions and finding retribution to those who have dared to speak out over what has taken place with this process.

Sure, some of the figures in this story have been banned from FIFA (including Jack Warner and Mohamed bin Hammam), but those two were only kicked out after their illegal activity outside of FIFA was found.

Those two former confederation heads (Warner with CONCACAF and bin Hammam with the Asian confederation) were likely to continue their high-level jobs inside FIFA without those criminal charges — nevermind that both were linked with major corruption inside FIFA for a long time.

Instead of releasing the full report, yesterday we got a watered down and allegedly incomplete version of events, people and activities. What we also got were the two biggest federations to complain, the British and Australian’s, somehow at the forefront of the report.

There’s no doubt both those bids appear to have had some corruption and bribery happening, and that needed to be exposed. However, the manner and vigor with which the report goes after FIFA’s two biggest critics smells of even more cover up rather than getting to the honest truth.

With actions like today, FIFA continues to erode its public confidence, which is rather ironic because we’re talking about actual criminal charges being filed.

The only way FIFA can avoid further erosion is to release the full report and allowing the chips to fall where they may. If that means exposing what most logical people believe to be true (that Russia and Qatar got the World Cup in nefarious ways), then that’s what needs to happen.

FIFA’s credibility is on the line, and it continues to make one misstep after another. The question is, just how much will the public and the individual countries take before doing something drastic to fix this mess?

About Andrew Coppens

Andy is a contributor to The Comeback as well as Publisher of Big Ten site talking10. He also is a member of the FWAA and has been covering college sports since 2011. Andy is an avid soccer fan and runs the Celtic FC site The Celtic Bhoys. If he's not writing about sports, you can find him enjoying them in front of the TV with a good beer!