FIFA has at last published the Garcia report into allegations of corruption in the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup tournaments, which were awarded to Russia and Qatar.
When former US attorney Michael Garcia first completed the report, back in 2014, FIFA published only a 42-page summary of the document, produced by its ethic judge Hans Joachim Eckert. The summary found that “the potentially problematic facts and circumstances identified by the report regarding the Qatar 2022 bid were, all in all, not suited to compromise the integrity of the FIFA World Cup 2018/2022 bidding process as a whole”. Garcia resigned at football’s world governing body’s treatment of his report.
FIFA made the decision to publish the full report after it was leaked to German newspaper, Bild.
The report makes several staggering findings, notably that:
- three members of FIFA’s Executive Committee were flown by private jet funded by the Qatari Football Association to a party in Rio before the 2010 ballot took place.
- the daughter of one member of the Executive Committee had the equivalent of 1.8 million euros deposited in her bank account in the months after the bid.
These are the headlines. However, the report also depicts a culture where ethical breaches had become routine and backhanders a matter of course. Here is just a small snapshot of some of Garcia’s findings:
- In 2010, FIFA circulated a formal memorandum to all countries bidding to host the World Cup reminding them that they must not offer, and FIFA officials could not accept any monetary gifts, personal advantage, benefit, promise, opportunity, remuneration or service in connection with the bidding process.
- Two members of FIFA’s Executive Committee that voted for the 2018/2022 World Cups, Mr Angel Villar Llona and Mr Julio Grondona, obstructed Michael Garcia’s investigation to such an extent that it led to a recommendation that all Executive Committee officials should be subject to term limits.
- All nine bid teams cooperated with the inquiry, although the losing bid team for Spain/Portugal 2018 was castigated in Garcia’s report for its “lack of candour”.
- The team for Australia 2022, which also lost its bid, retained the services of Peter Hargitay, a former special adviser to FIFA President Sepp Blatter. Garcia found that he inappropriately denigrated other bids when corresponding with high-ranking FIFA officials and that his actions gave the appearance that he was “improperly influencing the process”.
- FIFA Executive Committee member, Jack Warner, was found to have repeatedly used his power to exact personal benefits, including a job for a friend’s son, aid to his own football club, and an expenses-paid trip for a Trinidad football team, which were in violation of the FIFA Code of Ethics. Garcia remarks that “his conduct demonstrates an expectation that bidding teams would react favourably and seek to curry favour with a voting member”.
- Lord David Triesman, former Chairman of England’s Football Association, was so keen to expose what he characterized as unethical conduct by FIFA Executive Committee members, that he went before a parliamentary select committee to do so, knowing that parliamentary privilege would protect him from being sued for what he said.
- The report found evidence of vote collusion, and that the lack of transparency in the voting process was bound to inflame suspicions that vote-swapping took place.
- Michael Garcia was scathing about the “disingenuous interpretation” of guidance about football development, which degraded a socially-responsible programme intended to assist countries and constituencies in real need by treating it as a “vehicle to invest votes”.
- The report criticises a “culture of expectation and entitlement” among Executive Committee members, leading them to demand first-class accommodations and VVIP treatment. Garcia says that a number of them “displayed a disregard for ethical guidelines and an attitude that the rules do not apply to them”.