Garcia calls for World Cup accusers to come forward
13 Mar 2013
The chief investigator of FIFA’s Ethics Committee has called on those holding evidence of alleged impropriety in the award of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to come forward, adding that measures are available to protect their identity.
Michael Garcia, head of the investigative chamber of the Ethics Committee, has become the latest senior FIFA official to call on those alleging misconduct to firm up their accusations. FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke last month challenged those making corruption allegations concerning the award of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar to provide solid proof backing up their accusations. France Football magazine in January dedicated an entire issue to what it claimed were suspicious activities surrounding Qatar’s successful bid for the 2022 tournament. Valcke said FIFA’s Ethics Committee would take action upon the presentation of solid evidence of corrupt activities, but reiterated that current claims have consisted of little more than hearsay.
Garcia, also speaking to France Football, said: “The time has come for people who have information to come to me. I haven’t got any preconceived ideas on what’s happened or what’s not happened. Well (I’m saying to them): ‘If you truly believe it, the moment has come to show yourself. There are things that we can do, under the parameters of the code, that will protect your anonymity.’ I will work with them under this report. What wouldn’t be … useful would be that under this wide-ranging inquiry that I’m leading, later, there are people in it who say, ‘Well, they got the facts wrong’, when they knew that beforehand.” He added: “People have talked, written articles but what you have now is an official body which is in charge of this matter and it’s important that people go see me to tell me what they’ve got (at their disposal).”
The latest development has arisen after a senior organising committee official in December stated Qatar 2022’s World Cup victory had been the subject of “harsh criticism”. Qatar 2022 communications and marketing director Nasser Al Khater said that the organisation had been “singled out and criticised for no fault of our own” ever since it won the bid in December 2010, adding that ongoing criticism is part of a “smear campaign” from certain sections of the media. Al Khater spoke just days after Russia 2018 chief executive Alexey Sorokin hit out at criticism that both Russia and Qatar won their bids unfairly. Although direct allegations have never been made, the voting process for the two tournaments was called into question after two FIFA executive committee members were suspended before the decision following a British newspaper investigation into vote-trading.