Will Fifa finally publish Qatar World Cup corruption report?
Fifa shrugs off Garcia complaint, but pressure to publish his findings won't go away
Fifa president Sepp Blatter is considering whether to finally give in to public demand and publish the investigation into claims of corruption surrounding the vote for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups in full.
According to Sky Sports, Blatter "discussed the issue on Tuesday" in Marrakesh, Morocco, where Fifa officials are convening ahead of their two day conference, which starts on Thursday. The Swiss president of the game's governing body is said to have broached the issue of whether the 430-page report should be published with several Fifa executive committee members.
Sky Sports says that at least one exco member, German Theo Zwanziger, has officially proposed that there is a vote on publication. However, Fifa's leading compliance official, Domenico Scala, told Sky Sports in an interview on Tuesday night that he's yet to make a decision on whether Garcia's report is submitted to the Fifa committee in full. "I will report to whom I have to report," said Scala, adding: "I need to do my homework first."
He refused to answer any further questions on the subject that has shredded Fifa's reputation in recent weeks.
Garcia's spent 18 months scrutinizing the voting process for both the 2018 and 2022 World Cups but when his findings were eventually submitted to Fifa, head judge Hans-Joachim Eckert condensed the 430 page dossier into a 42-page report that revealed no evidence of wrongdoing on the part of the successful candidates, Russia and Qatar.
Garcia was "furious" with the way his findings had been twisted to suit Fifa's ends and launched an appeal against Eckert's report. The media reaction to Fifa's decision was scathing, with The Times declaring that under Fifa's guardianship football had become "dirtied and disgraced".
Yet despite the condemnation, Fifa on Tuesday dismissed Garcia's complaint against Eckert.
Employing what could be regarded as the bureaucratic equivalent of a Zidane turn or a Ronaldo shimmy the organisation shrugged off the complaints of the American attorney. "The report on the inquiry into the 2018-2022 Fifa World Cup bidding process does not constitute a decision and as such is neither legally binding nor appealable," it declared.
The news was greeted with a mix of anger and weary resignation in most quarters, but there remains the possibility that Blatter might give in to public pressure later this week and publish the report. He is meeting the presidents of all six confederations, including Uefa boss Michel Platini, this week and one Fifa Executive Committee member told Sky Sports that "every option is open" ahead of Thursday's conference at the La Mamounia hotel.
The hotel was the venue for the wedding of Vladimir Putin's daughter last year. Blatter should feel right at home.