This content was published on December 16, 2014 - 14:51
Ethics prosecutor Michael Garcia’s appeal against the handling of his World Cup bid investigation was dismissed by Zurich-based FIFA on Tuesday. World football’s governing body said Garcia’s case was ruled “not admissible” by the appeals panel.
The former US 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.
However, Eckert’s report “does not constitute a decision ... and as such is neither legally binding nor appealable”, FIFA said in a statementExternal link.
“In doing so, [Eckert] had merely commented on the report of [Garcia’s] investigatory chamber on a voluntary basis,” it said.
FIFA was plunged into chaos last month when Eckert said there were no grounds to reopen the controversial bidding process which led to Russia being given the 2018 finals and Qatar the 2022 tournament. Allegations of corruption and bribery surrounding the process have accompanied FIFA and the host nations ever since.
It is unclear whether Garcia can now take his appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
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 executive committee gather in Marrakesh, Morocco, for a key meeting to consider the case – will further fuel scepticism. 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 on Thursday, which appears weighted against reformers seeking greater transparency.
Swiss reputation suffering
On December 12, the Swiss parliament passed legislation designating leaders of sports organisations based in Switzerland – like FIFA – as so-called “Politically Exposed Persons” (PEPs) subject to corruption investigations. This measure is part of a larger package of money laundering legislation.
Recently, 95% of respondents to an online survey by the daily commuter newspaper 20 Minuten said Blatter should step down to save FIFA’s reputation.
All of that negative public opinion – plus bad effects on Switzerland’s reputation abroad – added up to a major crackdown with the PEP law, said Roland Büchel, a rightwing Swiss People’s Party parliamentarian spearheading efforts to reform sports organisations.
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