Report: Senior FIFA Members Tried To Halt Corruption Probe

Every time FIFA does something right—like forming an independent investigation into allegations of corruption surrounding the votes for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups—it manages to shoot itself in the foot. Reports out of Switzerland claim that "senior FIFA power-brokers" attempted to derail the investigation, presumably afraid of what it might uncover.

The awarding of the World Cups to Russia and Qatar have been dogged by claims of bribes—the most recent coming last week. FIFA appointed American former prosecutor Michael Garcia to head a "transparent" and "independent" probe into the allegations, and last week it was reported that Garcia was to begin interviewing the 12 Executive Committee members still around from the vote. But according to Reuters, at FIFA ExCo meetings in Zurich on Thursday and Friday, there was backroom campaigning by senior members to either remove Garcia from his post, or cancel the investigation altogether.

There's not a lot of detail about what went on. FIFA VP Jim Boyce told Reuters that "some people wanted to see Garcia removed from the inquiry." Jordanian ExCo member Ali Bin Al Hussein went further, saying, "there were some questions raised about the necessity of having an Independent Ethics Committee."

There is, perhaps, some squeamishness about an American investigating a vote the Americans lost, but for impartiality's sake, Garcia is not allowed to question American members. (Nor will he be interviewing Russian officials. He has long been banned from entering that country because he once prosecuted a Russian arms dealer.)

The committee members who spoke to Reuters said any movement to remove Garcia was stopped before it was discussed in session.

[Reuters]