As expected—and as SI reported back in July—the report commissioned by FIFA to investigate the bids for the next two men’s World Cups found no smoking guns that would cause Qatar (2022) or Russia (2018) to lose the hosting rights for those tournaments.
On Thursday, Hans-Joachim Eckert of Germany, the chair of the adjudicatory chamber of the FIFA ethics committee, released his shortened, 42-page summary of the full report that was written by Michael Garcia of the U.S., the chair of the investigatory chamber of the FIFA ethics committee.
Then, in a fascinating twist worthy of Orwell, Garcia—FIFA’s lead investigator—issued a statement saying FIFA was whitewashing his own report. “Today’s decision by the Chairman of the Adjudicatory Chamber contains numerous incomplete and erroneous representations of the facts and conclusions detailed in [my] report," Garcia said in the statement. "I intend to appeal this decision to the FIFA Appeal Committee.”
The main findings pertinent to the U.S. audience are:
• FIFA’s investigation into the bids for World Cups 2018 and ’22 is closed. Any issues deemed relatively minor with the Qatar and Russia bids were not found by Eckert to be enough to take hosting rights away from Qatar or Russia.
Eckert writes: “The potentially problematic facts and circumstances identified by the report regarding the Qatar 2022 bid were, all in all, not suited to compromise the integrity of the … bidding process as a whole.”
• The report concluded that payments to African soccer politicians and former CONCACAF president Jack Warner by Mohamed Bin Hammam, a Qatari who was on the FIFA executive committee in 2010, were connected to Bin Hammam’s campaign for FIFA president and not to Qatar’s World Cup bid. The report also raised questions about two consultants for Qatar ’22 but did not find their actions to be serious enough to put Qatar’s hosting in jeopardy.
• The Russia 2018 bid gave the “dog-ate-my-homework” excuse to Garcia's deputy Cornel Borbely, saying pertinent e-mails and documents had been on computers that were leased and returned to their owner. The owner told Borbely the computers had been destroyed. Russia was still cleared by Eckert.
• The U.S. bid for World Cup ’22 was dinged for some misdemeanors, including discrepancies in the documentation and contact reports submitted by the U.S. bid committee to FIFA and the testimonies of U.S. soccer officials. But if the U.S. had won the bid to host ’22, it would not have lost that right based on information in the report.
• If one bid might have been in danger of losing its hosting rights had it won, it was England. Eckert’s summary took England to task for several things it had done to curry favor with Warner, including finding a job in the United Kingdom for an associate of Warner and scheduling a friendly between England and Warner’s Trinidad and Tobago.
Despite all the information included in the published report Thursday, a source familiar with Garcia’s report told SI.com that Eckert’s summary failed to include or emphasize some important findings that did appear in Garcia’s full report. Some of those findings are:
• Eckert’s summary states: “[FIFA] president [Sepp] Blatter’s responsibility for the myriad issues that developed over the course of the bidding process merits consideration.”
But Blatter is criticized more strongly than that in the Garcia Report for his failures of leadership during the bid process for World Cups 2018 and ’22. (Blatter was not found to have committed any specific violations, however.)
• Further significant criticism was aimed in the full Garcia Report toward several individual members of the FIFA executive committee who took part in the vote for those World Cup hosts in 2010. Some of those members are still on the FIFA executive committee, and some of the criticism went toward ExCo members that are not the “usual suspects” like Jack Warner, Mohamed Bin Hammam and Ricardo Teixeira, who departed the executive committee in disgrace after the 2010 vote. However, in Eckert’s summary, only Warner and Bin Hammam (who are no longer involved in soccer) are mentioned by name.
As a body, the FIFA executive committee that voted in 2010 was found in the Garcia Report to have a culture of entitlement and an attitude that the FIFA rules did not apply to the executive committee. Moreover, the report found that members of the executive committee failed to act in the best interests of FIFA as an organization.