Garcia slams FIFA for ethics probe secrecy

Garcia slams FIFA for ethics probe secrecy

LONDON - Reuters
Garcia slams FIFA for ethics probe secrecy

FIFA President Sepp Blatter gives a press conference at the end of a meeting of the FIFA Executive Committee at the organization’s headquarters in Zurich.

Michael Garcia, the investigator into alleged corruption surrounding the 2018 and 2022 World Cups bidding process, has criticized football’s global governing body FIFA for not conducting its ethics investigations in an open manner.

Garcia submitted his long-awaited report to German judge Hans-Joachim Eckert last month and called for it to be made public in line with “the goals of the reform process.”

A number of FIFA executive committee members have backed its publication, but President Sepp Blatter has sidestepped the issue and the governing body’s legal director linked the report’s confidentiality with the protection of witnesses. “The investigation and adjudication process operates in most parts unseen and unheard,” the BBC quoted Garcia as saying in a keynote speech at an event organized by the American Bar Association in London.

“That’s a kind of system which might be appropriate for an intelligence agency but not for an ethics compliance process in an international sports institution that serves the public and is the subject of intense public scrutiny.”

Garcia, a former United States attorney, is investigating whether there was any corruption in the turbulent bidding process four years ago which ended in the 2018 World Cup being awarded to Russia and the 2022 tournament to Qatar.

FIFA and Qatar World Cup organizers have fended off corruption allegations ever since the
Gulf state was awarded the tournament.

Last month, Blatter restated his intention to run for a fifth term in next May’s election and will vie with French candidate Jerome Champagne, who has called for Garcia’s report to be made public.

“The natural next step of the development of an effective ethics process at FIFA is greater transparency,” Garcia said. “The second element that is vital to fulfilling the promise of this reform process is tone at the top. More simply put ... (what) FIFA needs in order to meet the challenge of ethics enforcement is leadership. An ethics committee -- even a serious, independent ethics committee backed by a strong code of ethics -- is not a silver bullet.”