FIFA Publishes Secret Garcia Report, Which Detailed Corruption in World Cup Bids
FIFA on Tuesday published an American investigator’s top-secret report into the bidding for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, acting, it said, “for the sake of transparency.” The decision to publish the report, which had been kept secret for more than two years and detailed bribes and vote-trading in the bidding process, came a day after a German newspaper revealed that it had obtained a copy and planned to publish the report’s details.
Fresh disclosures of possible ethics violations in the bidding processes for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups were expected to emerge after the newspaper, Bild, revealed on Monday that it had obtained a copy of a previously unreleased, 430-page report. The report, compiled by Michael J. Garcia, a former United States attorney who had served as FIFA’s chief ethics investigator, detailed the findings of a monthslong examination of the voting procedures — widely reported to have been tainted by corruption — that awarded the two World Cup tournaments on the same day in 2010.
Garcia submitted the report in 2014 after leading an investigation that, Mr. Garcia stated at the time had uncovered “serious and wide-ranging issues” in the selection process.
But, despite appeals for transparency by Mr. Garcia and members of FIFA’s ruling executive committee in 2014, the report was never released to the public. Instead, Hans-Joachim Eckert of Germany, who at the time was serving as the chief judge of FIFA’s ethics committee, published a 42-page summary in November 2014 that asserted, in apparent contrast to Mr. Garcia’s statements, that the voting process had occurred without any serious wrongdoing.
Mr. Eckert also rejected the idea that any violations should lead to a reopening of the bidding process for the tournaments, and FIFA’s leadership, led by its former president Sepp Blatter, quickly declared the matter “closed.”
A month later Mr. Garcia resigned from his position in protest, charging at the time that Mr. Eckert’s summary included “numerous materially incomplete and erroneous representations of the facts and conclusions.”
Peter Rossberg, the Bild reporter who obtained the hefty, secret document that had come to be known as the Garcia Report, wrote on his Facebook page late Monday night that the dossier did not provide “definitive proof” that the 2018 and 2022 World Cups had been “bought.” He said, however, that it nevertheless provided important details that would contribute to a larger picture of what he called a “completely corrupt system.”
But before Bild could publish the information, FIFA scooped the newspaper by releasing the report itself.
FIFA said in a news release that “the new chairpersons of the independent Ethics Committee, Maria Claudia Rojas of the investigatory chamber and Vassilios Skouris of the adjudicatory chamber, have decided to publish the report,” and contended that FIFA’s president, Gianni Infantino, had “on numerous occasions” had called for the report’s release.
“Despite these regular requests,” FIFA said, “it is worth noting that the former chairpersons of the Ethics Committee, Cornel Borbély and Hans-Joachim Eckert, had always refused to publish it.”
Mr. Eckert, who had said privacy concerns had made publication of the report “impossible,” and Mr. Borbély, the investigator who had replaced Garcia, were removed from their posts earlier this year. At the time, they implied their ongoing ethics investigations into several top figures in FIFA had been thwarted by their ouster.
On Tuesday, FIFA claimed the high ground. “For the sake of transparency,” it said, “FIFA welcomes the news that this report has now been finally published.”
New York Times journalists are reading the Garcia Report and will update this article as new information is revealed.