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Eckert happy for FIFA World Cup bidding report to be published in full

FIFA's Secretary General insists ongoing claims of corruption and confusion over the Garcia report have not cost them sponsors.

FIFA ethics judge Hans-Joachim Eckert has said he would welcome Michael Garcia's report into the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups being published in full -- if the governing body's ethics committee passes a resolution to allow it.

Eckert's summary of the investigation into the process, which resulted in successful bids by Russia and Qatar, has come in for heavy criticism, with FIFA prosecutor Garcia himself lodging an appeal saying it contained "numerous materially incomplete and erroneous representations of the facts and conclusions."

There have been widespread calls for FIFA to publish the report, but officials including Eckert and president Sepp Blatter have insisted that this would not be possible legally.

However, Eckert has now responded to that fierce criticism by saying he would not stand in the way of the report being published in full -- but first FIFA must remove the clause which prevents it being released into the public domain.

Eckert told Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on Friday: "We need to find a binding solution for everyone, who can say what and when. If the FIFA ethics committee passes a resolution that the Garcia report can be disclosed, I will not prevent it.

"To the contrary, I'd be the first to say that if transparency is legally possible, I am certainly up for it. But I would reserve the right to review if it's possible.

"Right now the situation is clear to me. According to article 36 of the ethics committee the Garcia report can't be published."

Some observers have claimed that a FIFA-driven investigation can never be independent, which Eckert has refuted.

"Both Michael Garcia and I set out with the absolute statement that we are totally independent," Eckert added. "None of us -- and I speak on the behalf of my colleague too -- has ever felt like a puppet on a string for someone. Also not for Mr Blatter. The FIFA president has never intervened, and that's why I mentioned his work in connection with the instalment of the ethics committee in my statement.

"And it's clear that those having a negative opinion of him and his administration in the past years don't like that."

Hans-Joachim Eckert (right) with Michael Garcia.

Eckert reiterated that his statement is not the end of the investigation but "an interim report," and rued that "it would have been better to have a parallel news conference" alongside the FIFA press release and his statement, which was only published on the official website, "to answer questions and remove ambiguities."

"The statement in judicial sense is not a final report nor a reasoned holding and certainly complex," he continued. "But thus an impression was created that my statement whitewashes FIFA or all acting persons involved in the bids and votes for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. That is definitely not the case."

Garcia and Eckert met last Thursday and confirmed that "a number of individuals" have had formal cases opened against them.

According to Press Association Sport, three current FIFA executive committee members -- Angel Maria Villar Llona, Michel D'Hooghe and Worawi Makudi -- are under investigation by Garcia, as well as the former member Franz Beckenbauer, along with Harold Mayne-Nicholls from Chile. FIFA has also lodged a separate criminal complaint with the Swiss attorney general.

"FIFA and the ethics committee hit the wall in some areas in their effort to throw light on the bids," Eckert said and highlighted that an attorney has other ways to follow the trail of the money, and also can force people to work with the investigators. "But was has not reached the public yet is that at FIFA those affected can either cooperate with the ethics committee or have to face sanctions if they don't cooperate."

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