Monday October 13th, 2014

Michael Garcia, the former U.S. attorney appointed by FIFA to investigate the World Cup bidding process, criticized the secrecy of the organization's ethics culture and called for change.

Speaking at an American Bar Association lunch in London, Garcia said the organization's judicial wing operates mostly "unseen and unheard."

From the Associated Press:

"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."

The former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York pointed to the criticism faced by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for his handling of the Ray Rice domestic violence case.

"A lack of transparency in (the NFL's) initial investigation concerning Ray Rice fostered skepticism and questions about the integrity of its leadership," Garcia said. "Now the NFL has to bring in outside counsel to investigate the investigation. Notably the NFL has made clear the results of the new investigation will indeed be made public."

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Garcia was appointed by FIFA to investigate the bidding process of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, which were awarded to Russia and Qatar, respectively, after allegations of corruption and bribery.

He completed his investigation last month and submitted a report of his findings to FIFA ethics judge Joachim Eckert, who will determine whether the disciplinary process will proceed further. Eckert is expected to announce his decision in the spring and first provide a preliminary update in November.

Garcia is one of multiple soccer personalities and administrators that has called for his investigation report to be made public in the interest of transparency, joined by figures such as UEFA president and FIFA vice president Michel Platini, U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati and former FIFA executive committee member Franz Beckenbauer

FIFA president Sepp Blatter has maintained his staunch opposition to releasing the report in the interest of protecting witnesses.

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It was reported last week that Blatter shut down any meaningful discussion over the issue at a FIFA ExCo meeting in September, which contradicts Blatter's statements after the meeting that nobody attempted to seriously raise the issue.

According to the report, Blatter's rationale for shutting down discussion of the issue was that current ExCo members shouldn't have a right to make decisions about the report since the investigation relates to the actions of previous ExCo members.

Ben Estes

 

 

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