Garcia exit “a failure for FIFA”

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Published: Thursday 18th December 2014 by The News Editor

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FIFA has been accused of overseeing a “new failure” after Michael Garcia, the man in charge of investigating the World Cup, quit his post.

US lawyer Garcia resigned as chairman of the investigatory chamber of FIFA’s independent ethics committee after losing his appeal challenging the findings to clear Russia and Qatar to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

UEFA president Michel Platini described Garcia’s resignation as a “failure” for FIFA.

Platini said: “FIFA’s ethics committee was created to increase transparency at the organisation, that’s what we wanted, but in the end it has just caused more confusion. Mr. Garcia’s resignation is a new failure for FIFA.”

Garcia issued a hard-hitting statement criticising FIFA’s “lack of leadership” and saying he cannot change the culture of the world governing body.

It comes after he discovered on Tuesday that he had lost his appeal against the findings by ethics judge Hans-Joachim Eckert.

Garcia’s statement adds: “The appeal committee also overlooked the Eckert decision’s self-described ‘findings’, including one stating that ‘the evaluation of the 2018/2022 FIFA World Cups bidding process is closed for the FIFA ethics committee’.

“FIFA president [Sepp] Blatter recently reaffirmed that ‘finding’ during an interview published by FIFA, stating: ‘Furthermore, there is no change to Judge Eckert’s statement that the investigation into the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups is concluded.’

“I disagree with the appeal committee’s decision. 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.”

Garcia’s investigation into the bidding had seen him deliver a 430-page report to Eckert, and FIFA’s executive committee meeting in Marrakesh on Thursday and Friday are due to vote on whether that should be published but with the names redacted.

Garcia himself called for his report to be published back in September, but has now revealed he found himself reported to FIFA’s disciplinary committee for doing so, though no action was taken.

The American attorney has raised questions over the findings by Eckert, a German judge.

He said: “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.”

Garcia also cast doubt on Eckert’s independence, saying: “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.”

FIFA president Blatter expressed his surprise and said the executive committee will appoint an acting chairman this week with a successor elected by the FIFA Congress in May.

He said in a statement: “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.”

FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce expressed his shock and dismay at the situation and called on the governing body to publish as much of Garcia’s report as was legally possible.

“I am totally shocked,” the Northern Irishman, who is also a member of the executive committee, told Sky Sports News HQ. “It must be damaging (to FIFA).

“Michael Garcia is someone of the very highest credibility. He must feel very, very strongly about certain things when it has got to this stage.

“I have always said that as much of that (Garica) report, as legally possible, should now be put in the public domain. I honestly feel that this has got to a stage now where people are absolutely fed up with it. We need to bring it to a conclusion.

“I await with interest to hear what (audit and compliance committee chairman) Domenico Scala and (executive committee member) Theo Zwanziger are going to propose,” Boyce added. “It has got to be brought to a head.

“Until this situation is completely resolved, and brought to a head, I’m sorry, but FIFA’s reputation is always going to be damaged.”

Published: Thursday 18th December 2014 by The News Editor

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