ZURICH, Switzerland (AFP) - World football body Fifa will hold a new review of an investigation into bidding for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, widening access to a report written by a former US prosecutor into alleged corruption.
The step was announced on Thursday after a meeting in Zurich between chief investigator Michael Garcia, who led an 18-month probe into the controversial campaigns of Russia and Qatar, and German judge Hans-Joachim Eckert. The two have been at loggerheads over how much of the report should be made public.
Under their new accord the whole report will be given to the head of Fifa's audit and compliance committee who would then decide how much detail should be given to the body's all-powerful executive committee to decide any next steps.
Eckert said last week that Garcia's investigation had not produced enough evidence to warrant a revote for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. But Garcia protested that Eckert had misrepresented his findings and declared that he would appeal against the actions of Fifa's ethics judge. The Fifa leadership has also faced widespread pressure to allow the full publication of the investigation.
Garcia and Eckert "agreed that it is of major importance that the Fifa Executive Committee has the information necessary to evaluate which steps are required based on the work done by the FIFA Ethics Committee," said a statement released after their meeting.
Garcia and Eckert also offered to answer any questions that Scala might have, the two said.Garcia's investigation has already started cases against a number of individuals following the inquiry and the statement said any new review would not affect those cases.
Qatar has faced accusations of corruption virtually since it won the 2010 vote to hold the 2022 World Cup. The Gulf state has strongly denied any wrongdoing. Eckert's statement last week ruled out a re-vote for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments but within hours of the Fifa's ethics committee chief publishing a summary of Garcia's report, the corruption probe was thrown into turmoil when Garcia said he intended to appeal against the findings.
Garcia, a former US federal prosecutor, claimed the summary contained "numerous materially incomplete and erroneous representations of the facts and conclusions" detailed in his investigation. His 350-page report summed up an investigation that involved interviewing more than 75 witnesses and compiling a dossier with more than 200,000 pages and audio interviews. Controversy over the awarding of the next two World Cups had taken a further twist on Tuesday when Fifa lodged a criminal complaint over "possible misconduct" by individuals in connection with the bids.