ZURICH (Reuters) - FIFA ethics investigator Michael Garcia’s appeal against the statement issued by ethics judge Hans-Joachim Eckert on his investigation into the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding process has been ruled inadmissible.
FIFA also said on Tuesday there were no grounds for opening disciplinary proceedings against Eckert following complaints from whistleblowers who gave evidence to the investigation that their evidence had been revealed.
World soccer’s governing body was plunged into chaos last month when Eckert said there were no grounds to reopen the controversial bidding process which led to Russia being given the 2018 finals and Qatar the 2022 tournament.
Garcia, who led the investigation over an 18-month period, immediately appealed against Eckert’s statement, saying it contained misrepresentations.
But FIFA’s appeals committee has ruled that Eckert’s statement did not constitute a decision and is therefore neither legally binding nor appealable.
“Further, the FIFA Appeal Committee reiterated that the FIFA code of ethics (FCE) is designed to sanction individuals in cases in which the code has been violated,” FIFA said.
“The said statement is not addressed to one or several specific individual(s) and as such does not contain any sanctions in accordance with art. 30 of the FCE.” Garcia has said that more of his report should be made public. He met with Eckert and they agreed the report should be given a further review.
They also decided that Domenico Scala, head of FIFA’s audit and compliance committee, should decide how much of Garcia’s report will be presented to FIFA’s executive committee, whose next meeting is in Marrakech on Friday.
FIFA and Qatar World Cup organizers have been fending off allegations of corruption ever since the Gulf state was awarded the 2022 tournament. Qatar, which has repeatedly denied the allegations, has also been criticized over its treatment of migrant workers in the construction industry.
FIFA also dismissed a complaint by whistleblowers Phaedra Al-Majid and Bonita Mersiades, who said their confidentiality was compromised after giving evidence to Garcia’s investigation.
“The chairman stressed that since the participants in the investigation had gone public with their own media activities long before the publication of the statement of the chairman of the adjudicatory chamber Judge Eckert, the breach of confidentiality claim had no substance,” FIFA said.
No names were mentioned in the statement, the ruling body added, and any information provided was of a general nature.
“Thus, there was no divulgence of any information of a confidential nature,” FIFA said.
Editing by Ed Osmond