FIFA’s chief ethics investigator Garcia quits

Former FIFA Ultimate Team Coins attorney Garcia led the investigation by FIFA’s Ethics Committee into the bidding process for the next two FIFA World Cups, to be held in Russia and Qatar respectively.

The decision to award Qatar the 2022 showpiece was met with particular criticism over alleged corruption and staging the tournament in the country’s extreme weather conditions.

Ahead of a 41-page report into Garcia’s findings being published by Hans-Joachim Eckert, chairman of the adjudicatory chamber of FIFA’s independent Ethics Committee, FIFA insisted the results could not be released in full due to legal implications.

The American blasted ‘erroneous representations of the facts’ in Eckert’s summary and subsequently took his case to the FIFA Appeal Committee.

However, it rejected Garcia’s complaint, insisting he could not appeal against the report’s publication as no rulings were proposed within it, nor any fresh allegations of corruption found within it.

The decision has now prompted Garcia to step down from his role, citing a lack of leadership at FIFA as one of his primary reasons for leaving.

“I disagree with the Appeal Committee’s decision,” he wrote in a lengthy statement. “It now appears that, at least for the foreseeable future, the Eckert decision will stand as the final word on the 2018/2022 FIFA World Cup bidding process.

“While the Appeal Committee’s decision notes that further appeal may be taken to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, I have concluded that such a course of action would not be practicable in this case.

“No independent governance committee, investigator, or arbitration panel can change the culture of an organisation.

“And while the November 13, 2014, Eckert decision made me lose confidence in the independence of the Adjudicatory Chamber, it is the lack of leadership on these issues within FIFA that leads me to conclude that my role in this process is at an end.

“Accordingly, effective today, December 17, 2014, I am resigning as independent Chairman of the Investigatory Chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee.”

FIFA president Sepp Blatter responded to the revelation by expressing his shock at Garcia stepping down.

“I am surprised by Mr Garcia’s decision. The work of the Ethics Committee will nonetheless continue and will be a central part of the discussions at the ExCo meeting in the next two days,” a statement from Blatter read.

A FIFA statement confirmed an acting chairman would be hired at this week’s congress.

Michael Garcia FIFA resignation notice in full

For the first two years after my July 2012 appointment as independent Chairman of the FIFA Ethics Committee’s Investigatory Chamber, I felt that the Ethics Committee was making real progress in advancing ethics enforcement at FIFA. In recent months, that changed.

On September 5, 2014, I and Cornel Borbely, the Deputy Chair of the Investigatory Chamber, sent a “Report on the Inquiry into the 2018/2022 FIFA World Cup Bidding Process” (the “Report”) to the FIFA Ethics Committee’s Adjudicatory Chamber. The Report identified serious and wide-ranging issues with the bidding and selection process. (Mr. Borbely also filed separate reports from his inquiries into the activities of the bid teams from Russia and the United States.)

Soon after, the Chairman of the Adjudicatory Chamber, Hans-Joachim Eckert, indicated publicly that only limited information from the Report would be made public. Concerned that insufficient transparency would not serve FIFA’s interests, I issued a public statement calling on the FIFA Executive Committee to authorise the appropriate publication of the Report. The Executive Committee took no action on this subject during its September 2014 meetings – other than to refer me to the FIFA Disciplinary Committee for allegedly violating the Code of Ethics through my public comments, namely, my public request that the Executive Committee authorise appropriate publication of the Report and the on-the-record statement Mr. Borbely and I released concerning watches given to certain football officials. The Chairman of the Disciplinary Committee, Claudio Sulser, ultimately rejected the Executive Committee’s referral.

On November 13, 2014, Mr. Eckert issued a 42-page “Statement of the Chairman of the Adjudicatory Chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee on the Report on the Inquiry into the 2018/2022 FIFA World Cup Bidding Process prepared by the Investigatory Chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee” (the “Eckert Decision”). In a cover letter, Mr. Eckert described the statement as his “findings, including certain descriptions of the contents of the Investigatory Chamber’s report.”

The issues raised by Mr. Eckert’s selection and omission of material from the Report, and his additional comments, went far beyond the initial transparency concerns. As my public statement at the time explained, the Eckert Decision contained “numerous materially incomplete and erroneous representations of facts and conclusions.” Accordingly, I appealed.

A brief I filed with the Cheap FIFA 15 XBox One Coins Appeal Committee on November 24, 2014, outlined the Eckert Decision’s most serious failings. Among other points, the brief explained why, when viewed in the context of the Report it purported to summarise, no principled approach could justify the Eckert Decision’s edits, omissions, and additions.

FIFA dismisses Garcia’s appeal of World Cup probe

FIFA 15 Ultimate Team Coins — The status of Russia and Qatar as World Cup hosts seemed even more secure Tuesday after FIFA dismissed ethics prosecutor Michael Garcia’s appeal against the handling of his investigation into the bidding process.

FIFA said its appeals panel ruled the case “not admissible.”

The former U.S. Attorney had objected to ethics judge Joachim Eckert’s summary of the World Cup bid investigation, claiming “numerous materially incomplete and erroneous representations” of his work.

Eckert sought to close the case against all nine bidding candidates last month. He concluded that any corruption or rule-breaking was of “very limited scope” and did not influence the votes. The FIFA executive committee chose Russia to host the World Cup in 2018 and Qatar won the vote for the 2022 tournament.

It was unclear if Garcia can take his appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Garcia filed his appeal last month only three hours after FIFA published Eckert’s report and welcomed “a degree of closure.”

However, Eckert’s report “does not constitute a decision … and as such is neither legally binding nor appealable,” FIFA said in a statement Tuesday.

FIFA also provided further legal opinion in a background paper on its website.

“In doing so, the chairman (Eckert) had merely commented on the report of (Garcia’s) investigatory chamber on a voluntary basis,” the FIFA paper said.

The ruling was published less than one hour after FIFA announced a disciplinary committee judgment dismissing complaints by two whistleblowers who were interviewed during the probe.

The timing of the decisions — as FIFA President Sepp Blatter and his board gather in Marrakech, Morocco — will further fuel skepticism. FIFA insists that its judicial bodies are independent and not subject to any influence within its Zurich headquarters.

Still, the two rulings will help set the agenda ahead of the two-day board meeting starting Thursday, which appears weighted against reformers seeking greater transparency.

The board is set to receive a review on Friday of Garcia and Eckert’s work by Domenico Scala, the chairman of FIFA’s audit and compliance committee. Scala should decide how much of Garcia’s confidential 430-page investigation dossier should be seen by the board to decide the next steps in the case, more than four years after Russia and Qatar won their votes.

Blatter’s ruling board will then decide whether to relax secrecy rules and publish some or all of Garcia’s work.

Garcia’s legal defeat Tuesday does not affect his prosecutions of five men, including former FIFA board member Franz Beckenbauer, for wrongdoing in the bid campaign.

Three current FIFA board members — FIFA vice president Angel Maria Villar of Spain, Michel D’Hooghe of Belgium and Worawi Makudi of Thailand — also face sanctions for their actions during bid contests marred by claims of bribery, collusion and favor-seeking, and the subsequent investigation.

The Russian and Qatari World Cup bid teams and organizing committees have always denied wrongdoing.

In the earlier disciplinary ruling Tuesday, FIFA said the whistleblowers’ “breach of confidentiality claim had no substance.”

The FIFA statement did not identify Phaedra Almajid, a former Qatar bid staffer, and Bonita Mersiades, who worked for the Australia campaign. Both worked in communications for their countries’ 2022 bids and left before the December 2010 vote.

The FIFA panel ruled that both women “had gone public with their own media activities long before” Eckert’s summary was published. Eckert’s report also did not name them.

FIFA said Garcia advised disciplinary chairman Claudio Sulser that the complaints against Eckert “were without merit.”

The president German soccer federation, one of FIFA’s most influential members, spoke out Tuesday against the legal turmoil.

Wolfgang Niersbach, speaking on the fringes of a news conference, said “we’ve lost track” of the judicial mess over the Garcia report.

Niersbach, who European members could elect to the FIFA board in March, said the sport’s governing body was failing to be an institution of “absolute credibility and integrity.”

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