Allegations of corruption in FIFA's selection procedures for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups prompted a self-imposed independent ethics investigation led by New York lawyer Michael Garcia. Reuters reports the reform process designed to bring transparency to FIFA's executive committee came close to being sabotaged from within the organization last week.
Qatar's big-budget bid and campaign tactics came under scrutiny shortly after the December 2010 vote to name the country host of the 2022 World Cup. Critics questioned the decision and the role executive committee members played in awarding the games to a region where the temperatures could reach 100-plus degrees during the tournament.
The Daily Telegraph alleged last week that evidence showed former FIFA vice president Jack Warner of Trinidad & Tobago and his family were paid almost $2 million from a company controlled by Mohamed Bin Hammam, a Qatari and former FIFA executive committee member.
Amidst these and other allegations, Garcia was selected by FIFA and charged with filing a final report to the judging division of FIFA's ethics court to decide on possible sanctions of committee members.
Reuters cites sources connected to the story that the plan not only involved removing Garcia as chief investigator into alleged corruption at FIFA, but also other probes off alleged corruption.
Reuters reports reform-minded members quashed the plan before it was discussed in full session of executive committee meetings at FIFA's headquarters in Zurich on Thursday and Friday. And those members would have considered resigning their positions if attempts to remove Garcia or hinder further investigations were successful.
FIFA's British vice president Jim Boyce told Reuters that as far as he was concerned, he would have had to consider resigning his position had any attempt to halt the investigation succeeded.
Northern Irishman Boyce, 70, who is also the head of FIFA's referee's committee and steps down from the committee in 15 months time, said: "There was a bit of informal chat about the possibility that some people wanted to see Garcia removed from the inquiry and that it might be raised at the exco meeting but it wasn't.Reuters reports no suggestion that FIFA president Sepp Blatter played any role in the plan to stop what he has publicly championed as FIFA's new "transparent" reform process.
"As someone who has been brought up with honesty and integrity - and it was a great honour for me to be asked to be a vice-president - if this had been proposed at the exco meeting or I thought for one moment Garcia would be removed in any fashion from carrying out his full investigation, I and others would be aghast and would have had to consider our positions because things at FIFA have been improving greatly."