As expected, the report based on FIFA's probe has largely cleared Russia, Qatar, and all active FIFA officials of claims of corruption in the World Cup bidding process. But here's one no one saw coming: the man who actually conducted the investigation says the report is "incomplete and erroneous," and will appeal its findings.
Michael J. Garcia, a former U.S. Attorney, spent 18 months looking into allegations that many of the nine bids seeking the 2018 and 2022 World Cups showered gifts and money on FIFA executives, interviewing more than 75 witnesses—and gathering information on many more who refused to cooperate.
A few months ago Garcia produced a 430-page report, which FIFA's top judge immediately declared would never be made public. That judge, Hans-Joachim Eckert, instead put together his own 42-page summary of Garcia's findings, which can be found below. It was Eckert's summary that was released today. Garcia says that's insufficient and flat-out wrong.
"Today's decision by the Chairman of the Adjudicatory Chamber contains numerous materially incomplete and erroneous representations of the facts and conclusions detailed in the Investigatory Chamber's report," said Garcia.
So what we have, in essence, is one of FIFA's two-headed ethics committee accusing the other of poor ethics. It sounds farcical, but its true. (The farce is strong here. Today's report condemns nearly every losing World Cup bid more strongly than it does Qatar's or Russia's, if only because few Qatar administrators allowed themselves to be interviewed by Garcia, and Russia claimed it had thrown out all its records of the bidding process.)
Garcia will appeal the decision to close the investigation into the World Cup bidding. It'll go before FIFA's appeals committee, and good luck with that being on the up-and-up:
Here's Eckert's summary of Garcia's report. I'm just glad FIFA was able to get to the bottom of things, and discover that England was the real villain all along.