LONDON (Reuters) - The “absolutely incredible” events buffeting FIFA mean world soccer’s governing body must now release the full report into the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups if it is to rebuild its tarnished image, the man who hopes to become its next president told Reuters on Friday.
FIFA had hoped to draw a line under the controversy when German judge Hans-Joachim Eckert, ruling on behalf of the soccer body’s ethics committee, said he found no grounds sufficient to re-open the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments in Russia and Qatar.
But within hours, former U.S. attorney Michael Garcia, hired by FIFA to head the investigation into the bids, said he would appeal the committee’s conclusion and that the summary “contains numerous materially incomplete and erroneous representations” of facts and conclusions in his report.
Jerome Champagne, who is to stand against president Sepp Blatter in the election next year, told Reuters: ”The events that unfolded yesterday between 10am and 1pm were absolutely incredible.
“I was in FIFA for 11 years and have never seen anything like that. It was, as they say in Hollywood, larger than life,” the former FIFA official said in a phone interview.
”We need to know what is in the report for two reasons. First we need to protect the World Cup which of course has a huge impact in the game and is the pinnacle of world soccer.
”The world is divided, the world is suffering, and there is one moment every four years when the world comes together for the most popular sport in the world as a collective community. So we must protect its integrity.
”Secondly, the report needs to be published to start re-building FIFA’s image.
“Rebuilding FIFA’s image is a very important part of my campaign and my vision. The report should be published, with the necessary redactions. I can only regret that these two objectives have not been met, that these two goals have not been scored.”
Frenchman Champagne formally announced in September that he would stand for the most powerful post in world soccer. Blatter, 78, will be seeking a fifth term.
Editing by Mitch Phillips