FIFA’s executive committee on Friday voted to release a corruption report by former ethics investigator Michael Garcia into the turbulent bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. It follows mounting pressure to go public with the findings after he publicly challenged the organization’s stance that no proof was found of bribes or voting pacts in successful campaigns by Russia and Qatar to host the next two tournaments.
However, Sepp Blatter — president of FIFA, international soccer’s governing body — said in a statement that despite the release of the report, for which no date has been set, the organization would “not revisit the 2018 and 2022 vote.” He added that it would take an “earthquake” for the venues to be moved.
At a news conference on Friday, Blatter said FIFA would “go on by sticking to our decision,” saying “both tournaments are in our calendar.”
“The FIFA executive committee unanimously agreed to ask the adjudicatory chamber of the independent ethics committee to publish the report in an appropriate form once the ongoing procedures against individuals are concluded. I am pleased they have agreed,” he said Friday.
Michel Platini, the president of UEFA, Europe's top soccer governing body, said on Friday that FIFA's decision to publish the report was "a step in the right direction."
"I have always battled for transparency and this is a step in the right direction," Platini said in a statement released by UEFA. "Let us hope that the report can now be published as quickly as possible. The credibility of FIFA depends on it."
Blatter, however, said the report would be published only after FIFA’s strict secrecy rules have been satisfied, which likely means the report will be heavily redacted to protect the confidentiality of witnesses.
Five officials, including three long-serving FIFA executive committee members, are being investigated as part of the 18-month corruption probe. Last month, ethics committee member and German judge Joachim Eckert said allegations of corruption among members were of a “very limited scope” and did not warrant rerunning the bids for the next two World Cups.
The FIFA board members under investigation are Vice President Angel Maria Villar of Spain, Michel D’Hooghe of Belgium and Worawi Makudi of Thailand, according to The Associated Press.
Meanwhile, Garcia, who was appointed to conduct an independent investigation into the corruption allegations, resigned two days ago, citing a “lack of leadership” at the organization and loss of confidence in Eckert as reasons for his decision. Garcia, a former federal prosecutor, quit a day after the FIFA appeals panel rejected his challenge of Eckert’s summary of the confidential 430-page investigation dossier, saying Eckert misrepresented his work.
Friday’s move follows a two-day meeting in Marrakech, Morocco, by the FIFA executive committee.
“It is clear that while a summary of the report was issued, the publication of this report has become a barrier to rebuilding public confidence and trust in FIFA,” Blatter said Friday. “But the report is about history, and I am focused on the future.”
Al Jazeera and wire services