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FIFA Agrees to Release Redacted Ethics Report
« on: December 21, 2014, 10:20:03 AM »
FIFA Agrees to Release Redacted Ethics Report

By SAM BORDENDEC. 19, 2014

FIFA President Sepp Blatter said at a news conference Friday that the votes for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups would not be reopened. Credit Mohamed Messara/European Pressphoto Agency

FIFA said on Friday that it would release a redacted version of the 430-page report compiled by Michael J. Garcia, the former chief investigator for the governing body of soccer’s ethics committee, who spent more than a year digging into allegations of corruption in the World Cup bidding process.

Sepp Blatter, the president of FIFA, announced the decision at a news conference in Morocco, at which he also said that the 2018 World Cup would take place in Russia as planned and that the 2022 event would remain in Qatar because there were no legal grounds for a revote.

“We will not revisit the 2018 and 2022 vote,” Blatter said of the 2010 balloting. Nearly half the 22 voters involved in that vote left FIFA in subsequent years, many of them under suspicion of corruption. “It would really need an earthquake, extremely important new elements, to go back on this World Cup in Qatar.”

The report will be redacted to protect privacy and will not be released until it can be ensured that the investigations into some of the individuals found to have committed ethics violations have been closed.

There had been speculation that Blatter has tried to keep details of Garcia’s report from becoming public until after several key dates next year:

■ Nominations are due in January for anyone hoping to oppose Blatter in the next election for FIFA’s presidency.

■ In March, the executive committee is set to vote on when the Qatar World Cup will be held (a November-December schedule is most likely).

■ The election for FIFA’s presidency is scheduled for May, with Blatter a virtual lock for his fifth four-year term.

If there is anything connecting Blatter to inappropriate behavior in the Garcia report, it will have little consequence if the report is not seen until after Blatter has won another term.

Michel Platini, the head of UEFA, European soccer’s governing body, and an outspoken opponent of Blatter’s on a number of issues, called for a quick release of the report, saying: “I have always battled for transparency, and this is a step in the right direction. Let us hope that the report can now be published as quickly as possible. The credibility of FIFA depends on it.”
Garcia resigned from his position Wednesday after conflicts with Hans-Joachim Eckert, the German judge who was his judiciary counterpart on the ethics committee. Garcia cited a lack of leadership from FIFA in matters of good governance and reform, which was widely seen as a criticism of Blatter.

The divide stemmed, in large part, from Garcia’s frustration over Eckert’s 42-page summary of the ethics report released in November, which was initially the only item that had to be made public. In his summary, Eckert said the violations that Garcia had found were small, and he recommended that the matter be closed.

Garcia, who traveled the world investigating corruption allegations despite having no subpoena power, disagreed with that assessment. After losing an appeal to FIFA’s appeals committee, he resigned. The cases he opened against individuals — including three current executive committee members, as well as the former German star Franz Beckenbauer — will continue. Blatter said that Cornel Borbely, Garcia’s former deputy, would fill Garcia’s role on an interim basis, and he added that Garcia’s work was important.

Blatter said the investigation had inspired key changes in the way FIFA would approach the bidding process. However, there will be no revote — “the report is about history, and I am focused on the future,” Blatter said.

FIFA will look to firm up details about the World Cups in 2018 and 2022. On Friday, it determined the dates of the tournament in Russia. (The final will be July 15, 2018, in Moscow.) The executive committee will determine the timing of the Qatar World Cup in March in Switzerland. Then, after the election for the presidency, focus will turn to the 2026 tournament.

“We are already in the process of incorporating recommendations made by independent experts,” Blatter said, adding that “everyone can be confident that the 2026 bidding process will be fair, ethical and open.”

A version of this article appears in print on December 20, 2014, on page D6 of the New York edition with the headline: Redacted FIFA Report on Ethics to Come Out. Order Reprints| Today's Paper|Subscribe