FIFA reformists halt plan to derail corruption investigation

Tue Mar 25, 2014 6:25am EDT
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By Mike Collett

LONDON (Reuters) - FIFA's self-acclaimed transparent reform process headed by New York lawyer Michael Garcia came within hours of being sabotaged from within the organization last week, Reuters has learned.

The position of Garcia himself and his role as the head of the Independent Ethics Commission looking into alleged corruption surrounding the voting procedure for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, and the 2011 FIFA presidential election, came under threat from a number of senior FIFA power-brokers.

Members of FIFA's executive committee have told Reuters they would have considered their positions had the investigation into FIFA's affairs by Garcia been halted before he had completed his work.

A number of reform-minded members confirmed they stopped the plan before it was even discussed in full session, after being approached in the corridors between sessions of the executive committee meetings at FIFA's headquarters in Zurich on Thursday and Friday.

At almost exactly the same time, Garcia was in Zurich carrying out further investigations into FIFA's workings.

There is no suggestion FIFA president Sepp Blatter played any role in the plan to stop what he has widely acclaimed as FIFA's new "transparent" reform process.

Reuters understands from sources connected to the story that the plan not only involved removing Garcia from his post as the chief investigator into alleged corruption at FIFA, but also the game worldwide.

When approached to comment on the alleged plot to end the investigation, FIFA's British vice-president Jim Boyce told Reuters that as far as he was concerned, he would have had to consider his position had any attempt to halt the investigation succeeded.   Continued...

U.S. attorney Michael Garcia poses for a photo in his New York office July 25, 2007. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid