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FIFA delays ruling on 2018, 2022 World Cup bidding corruption probe

FIFA president Sepp Blatter backed moving the 2022 World Cup from the June-July time slot.

ZURICH -- FIFA ethics judge Joachim Eckert is unlikely to reach final decisions in the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding corruption probe until early next year and he also said that the details of the case will never be made public.

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The German judge also suggested on Friday it was not his job to remove Russia or Qatar as hosts or order a re-vote based on FIFA prosecutor Michael Garcia's investigation.

In giving his first detailed insight on a case likely to define FIFA's attempts to repair its scandal-ridden image, Eckert pushed back the expected deadline for verdicts.

"There will be some decisions, maybe in spring," Eckert said on the sidelines of an ethics in sport conference hosted by FIFA.

The ethics code also demands confidentiality, he said.

"You cannot expect for anything to be disclosed from this report to the public," he told the conference. "There is an obligation for secrecy and we will comply with this."

Eckert's comments will disappoint FIFA critics, who believed he could strip hosting rights.

Those would be decisions for FIFA's ruling executive committee -- which still includes 12 men who voted in the December 2010 polls -- or its congress of 209 federations, Eckert said.

"That is not our job," he said, suggesting his sanctioning power was limited to individuals. "The judgment may be based for a decision in sports politics but we will not make any recommendations."

Earlier, Eckert told the conference he would finish examining 430 pages of files from Garcia's investigation team by the "end of October, beginning of November."

"We have a report from Mr. Garcia but it is not of the legal quality of the final report. It is a summary of what he has found out," Eckert explained. "We are now doing a statement on the report and then Mr. Garcia will be working further."

Those initial reports detailed "conclusions concerning further action with respect to certain individuals," FIFA said in a statement this month.

No one at FIFA, including president Sepp Blatter, has read the confidential reports, the judge insisted.

Eckert said only four people have seen the files -- himself, Garcia, and their deputies, Australian judge Alan Sullivan and Swiss prosecutor Cornel Borbely.

"That is the way it is meant to be," Eckert said. "You can also rest assured that we as professionals know how to safeguard the report in order not to give anyone access to it."

He dismissed reports that people under investigation had "applied pressure" on him to reveal details.

"No one has called me," Eckert said, suggesting that would breach the FIFA code of ethics. "If that was the case, Michael Garcia would have to deal with new cases."

Garcia was due to speak in a conference session later Friday.

The former U.S. Attorney and his investigators spent almost a year quizzing officials involved in the two-year bidding campaigns. The contests were dogged by allegations of bribery, voting collusion, and seeking favours.

Some voting members of the FIFA board have since left football while under investigation in other corruption cases, and refused to cooperate.

Staffers from the nine candidates, involving 11 national associations, were also interviewed, and provided documents from their bids.

Eckert acknowledged the public scrutiny on his work.

"I know. I have the same pressure," he said, referring to his full-time job in a state court in Munich. "I have to look where I have time to read and I will do it. Very easy. You will have to wait, and I will read."

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