Thu, Dec 18, 2014 - Page 19 News List

Australian slams FIFA over rejection of Garcia report

Reuters, MELBOURNE, Australia

Soccer world body FIFA’s rejection of Michael Garcia’s appeal over misrepresentations in the statement on the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding probe was “predictable” for a governing body littered with self interest, according to the Australian whistleblower referred to in the statement.

FIFA on Tuesday turned down its chief investigator’s appeal against Judge Hans-Joachim Eckert’s statement that cleared Russia and Qatar of wrongdoing in their winning bids to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups respectively.

Garcia had said Eckert’s statement contained “numerous materially incomplete and erroneous representations of the facts and conclusions” detailed in his own report into the bidding process after an 18-month investigation.

FIFA also said there were no grounds for opening disciplinary proceedings against Eckert following complaints from whistleblowers that their evidence had been revealed.

Bonita Mersiades, who worked on the Australian bid team for the 2022 World Cup, said she was one of the unnamed whistleblowers referred to in the statement whose reliability was questioned and evidence dismissed out of hand.

“FIFA is nothing if not predictable, and has today surpassed itself in obfuscation and deflection,” she said in a statement on her Web site footballtoday.com.au. “FIFA’s position underscores why we need a new FIFA.”

“These issues are no longer just about winning bids from Russia and Qatar and losing bids, including Australia,” she said.

“It is about FIFA and the bid process that lent itself to abuse. In FIFA’s world, there is no room for ordinary fans,” Mersiades added.

FIFA used legalese in justifying its rejection of Garcia’s appeal, saying Eckert’s statement did not constitute a decision and was therefore neither legally binding nor appealable.

The other whistleblower referred to in the report, who was also discredited, was American Phaedra Al-Majid, who worked on the Qatar bid team.

FIFA said the whistleblowers’ breach of confidentiality claim had “no substance” because they had “gone public” with their own media activities before the statement came out.

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