Fifa's World Cup graft probe: Who's blaming who?

A July 27, 2012 photo shows Michael Garcia (left), Chairman of the investigatory chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee, and Hans-Joachim Eckert (right), Chairman of the adjudicatory chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee taking part in a press conferenc
A July 27, 2012 photo shows Michael Garcia (left), Chairman of the investigatory chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee, and Hans-Joachim Eckert (right), Chairman of the adjudicatory chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee taking part in a press conference at the FIFA headquarters in Zurich. -- PHOTO: AFP

Football's world governing body Fifa released on Thursday a summary of a report into voting by its executives to decide the hosts of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, which went to Russia and Qatar respectively.

It had commissioned an investigative committee, led by former former United States federal prosecutor Michael Garcia, who submitted his team's 18-month report to German judge Hans-Joachim Eckert, who runs the arm of the committee responsible for doling out punishment.

While Garcia found that some bidders gave excess gifts or complied with improper requests ahead of the December 2010 vote, Eckert said the violations weren't enough to re-open the voting process.

What Fifa is accusing bid nations of

The report highlighted potentially problematic connections between the Australian Football Association and Caribbean football confederation, Concacaf, in terms of financial and other support for football development and the bidding process.

It said the requests, and Australia's cooperation, "helped create the appearance that benefits were conferred in exchange for a vote thus undermining the credibility of the process".

The England bid team were heavily criticised for indulging the then Fifa executive committee member and Concacaf chief, Jack Warner.

This included sponsoring a gala dinner in his native Trinidad and helping an acquaintance find part-time employment in Britain. The report claimed "three of the four Fifa executive committee members made improper requests for support or favours towards the England 2018 bid team and/or the FA during the bidding process. England 2018 accommodated, or at least attempted to satisfy, the improper requests."

Investigations discovered that Japan distributed gifts to senior Fifa officials, members of the executive committee and some of their wives. The value varied from US$700 (S$902) to US$2,000.

The report said Chung Mong Joon, a Fifa executive committee member and honorary president of the Korean FA, had sent letters to his fellow Fifa exco members about his association's proposal to establish a global football fund.

He said South Korea intended to raise US$777 million to aid confederations and national associations. The report concluded that "the Global Football Fund letters created at least the appearance of a conflict or an offer of benefits to Fifa executive committee members in an effort to influence their votes".

The report criticised a lack of transparency in the relations between the Qatar bid team and two advisors, whose conduct "raised concerns in the light of relevant Fifa ethics rules".

The report said the financing of a friendly between Brazil and Argentina, played in Doha in 2010, raised concerns "in particular in relation to certain arrangements concerning payments intended for the Argentina FA".

However, the relevant arrangements were not connected to the Qatar 2022 bid. The report also said that the relationship between the Qatar bid and former Fifa executive committee member Mohamed Hammam, a Qatari who was banned for life in 2011 in a cash-for-votes scandal, was "somewhat distant".

Investigators said Russia made a "limited amount" of documents available to the investigation because the computers used at the time by the Russia bid committee had been leased and then returned to their owner after the bidding process.

The owner has confirmed that the computers were destroyed in the meantime. No evidence was found of collusion between the Russia and Japan bids.

How the nations have reacted

Frank Lowy, Football Federation of Australia chairman

"FFA did its best to run a competitive and compliant bid and to do it wherever possible hand-in-hand with the Australian Government, with the customary government oversight. We also involved, wherever possible, other bodies such as Unicef and Fifa itself. In addition, the financial management of the bid funds were routinely reported to Government and reviewed by independent external auditors.

"I made it clear to all involved in our bid that we would run a clean campaign and I stressed this objective at every opportunity."

Hassan Al thawadi, secretary general of Qatar 2022's Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy

Senior Qatari official Hassan Al-Thawadi (right) is seen with Spain's Carles Puyol (centre) and Qatari Football Association president Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani at the Khalifa International Stadium in the Qatari capital Doha on Feb 6, 2013.-- PHOTO: AFP

"We say the same as we've always said. We've always been confident about the integrity of our bid. We have been consistent in our view that any neutral investigation would exonerate us. Today's report was confirmation of that throughout this whole process we've been transparent when it comes to the process of bidding for the 2022 World Cup.

"Our focus has been concentrating on hosting and delivering an amazing World Cup that will leave a great legacy. We bid for a summer World Cup and we're developing the technology to make that a reality but we will host at any time."

Alexei Sorokin, CEO of Russia 2018 organising committee


On destroying the computers: "We rented the equipment, we had to give it back, then it went back - we don't even know where it went - to some sports schools, so quite naturally other people used it. Whatever we could supply, everything we could supply to the investigation we did. But we have to bear in mind that four years have passed since then, so some of the information we could just forget, naturally."

Greg Dyke, English Football Association chairman


"Within that report, most of the criticism is of people who co-operated the most fully. If you actually didn't co-operate, you don't get criticised, which seems very weird to me. The FA, I don't think on this, has got anything to hide. Everything that was done was cleared with the Fifa executive beforehand and was told to the Garcia report by the English FA."

How Garcia has reacted

Garcia, who carried out an exhaustive investigation into the bidding, slammed an "incomplete and erroneous" version of his report and said he planned to appeal.

He issued a statement on Thursday saying: "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. I intend to appeal this decision to the Fifa Appeal Committee."

How Eckert has reacted

"Usually you would first speak to each other internally if you don't like something. I have been trying to contact him."

How the football fraternity has reacted

Eric Cantona, former Manchester United star


"When you award the World Cup to a country, it is to develop football there. When they gave the 1994 World Cup to the United States, there was great potential there, with the Mexican and South American immigration, to develop football. But what is there that can be done in Qatar? How many people live in Qatar? When you are in a very small country, where you have to pay people to fill the stadiums, that isn't the point of it, as far as I'm concerned. It is a very wealthy country which has bought itself a World Cup."

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