FIFA ethics investigator Garcia resigns in protest

Wed Dec 17, 2014 4:32pm EST
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By Brian Homewood and Mark Hosenball

MARRAKECH, Morocco (Reuters) - FIFA ethics investigator Michael Garcia resigned on Wednesday in protest at the way his report into allegations of corruption in awarding the 2018 and 2022 World Cup tournaments to Russia and Qatar was handled by the soccer governing body's ethics judge.

Former U.S. prosecutor Garcia said in a statement that he had lost confidence in the independence of the ethics committee's adjudicatory chamber after judge Hans-Joachim Eckert issued a 42-page statement in November based on the report.

The credibility of Zurich-based FIFA's ability to police itself has been questioned inside the sport and Garcia's comments appeared to deal another blow to the organization. It has been fending off corruption allegations since the Gulf state was awarded the 2022 tournament four years ago. Qatar has denied the allegations.

Garcia, whose report has not been made public, said it was "the lack of leadership" on ethics issues within FIFA "that leads me to conclude that my role in this process is at an end.

"No independent governance committee, investigator or arbitration panel can change the culture of an organization," the statement issued through his Chicago-based law firm, Kirkland & Ellis, said. The firm said Garcia would not be available for interviews.

UEFA president Michel Platini, a member of FIFA's executive committee, said Garcia's resignation was a step backwards.

"FIFA's ethics committee was created to increase the transparency of the organization, that's what we wanted, but in the end it has just caused more confusion for FIFA," the former World Cup star for France said in a statement.

FIFA's Executive Committee is meeting this week in Marrakech, Morocco, which is hosting the Club World Club. The Exco is expected to debate a proposal from Germany's Theo Zwanziger to allow the publication of Garcia's report in full.   Continued...

Michael J. Garcia attends a news conference  at the Home of FIFA in Zurich July 27, 2012. REUTERS/Michael Buholzer