New FIFA Ethics Prosecutor May Examine World Cup Bidding Scandals
July 27, 2012
(WFI) The lead prosecutor of FIFA's two-chamber ethics body today said he has not ruled out investigating how the 2018 and 2022 World Cups were awarded. US lawyer Michael J. Garcia could even examine past corruption allegations facing president Sepp Blatter.
Garcia told a press conference in Zurich that there were "no limitations" on what the new ethics investigatory chamber of world football's governing body might examine.
“It will be determined solely by what we perceive as evidence or suggestions or reasons to look further and that will be our guiding principle,” he was quoted as saying by Bloomberg.
The bidding race for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups was hit by a string of bribery scandals ahead of the vote 18 months ago when Russia and Qatar were appointed hosts.
FIFA's new Independent Governance Committee headed by Mark Pieth told FIFA that those scandals were “insufficiently investigated.”
Blatter's remains tarnished by the ISL scandal, having admitted to knowledge of the millions of dollars in kickbacks received by former FIFA chief Joao Havelange and Brazilian FA boss Ricardo Teixeira that were confirmed in Swiss court documents released earlier this month.
The 76-year-old Swiss is also tainted by the FIFA presidential campaign last year when his rival Mohamed Bin Hammam quit the race on the eve of the election and the football federation's ethics committee subsequently banned him for life.
But the Court of Arbitration for Sport made a mockery of FIFA's old ethics panel last week when it overturned Bin Hammam's lifetime ban from FIFA, citing "insufficient evidence".
At today's news conference, Garcia invited any “credible complaint of corruption” from whistleblowers and the public.
“The scope of any investigation depends on facts and circumstances,” Garcia was quoted. "There is no bright line in terms of past and future. If there is conduct in the past that warrants an investigations, I will do that."
Garcia said that one of the biggest challenges in his new role, as with any investigatory body, was "about getting access to information"
"It’s about your ability to get cooperation, documents and witness interviews," he said in an interview published on FIFA.com.
"FIFA has a different type of organisational structure from a company or a government, so the challenge will be to work within that structure and use the new rules to get access to information.
"It’s not an insurmountable challenge by any means but it’s something that will need to be addressed as the cases go forward using the tools in the new Code of Ethics to get the cooperation we need and being prepared to penalise for failure to meet that duty to cooperate."
He added: "The Code is very detailed and provides a lot of guidance but with anything new, particularly in the area of ethics, discipline and investigations, we will have to establish a system of processes and procedures. The immediate challenge, bigger than any case, is to create that structure and ensure the organisation, the stakeholders and the public have confidence in it. And that work is starting already."
FIFA's revamped ethics committee started their work yesterday by handing Bin Hammam with a 90-day ban from world football while they investigate fresh corruption allegations brought to them by the Asian Football Confederation.
By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson
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