FIFA Ethics Chief to Probe Awarding of 2018 and 2022 World Cups

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Michael J Garcia is the new chief investigator of FIFA's two-chamber ethics commission (Getty)
(WFI) The lead prosecutor of FIFA's new ethics committee confirms he will examine the controversial awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar as well as the ISL scandal and corruption allegations involving Sepp Blatter.

One month after hinting at the possibility of probing the bidding race that was plagued by bribery scandals involving FIFA Ex-Co members, US lawyer Michael J. Garcia told German TV channel ARD that he would scrutinise the bid process.

He said the awarding of the 2006 World Cup to Germany would also be examined in the wake of corruption allegations centring on the FIFA decision on hosting rights. The ISL bribery scandal is to be investigated too.

"If you look at this, then it is clear that there is something to investigate, and I'll do that," Garcia told ARD.

On Blatter, he indicated that the allegations of corruption that have stalked the FIFA president through his 14 years at the helm of world football's governing body are also on his radar.

"The more important is the person involved, the more important it is to study them," Garcia said.

Blatter's reputation is 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 last month.

FIFA's Independent Governance Committee headed by Mark Pieth previously stated in a report to FIFA that those 2018/2022 scandals were “insufficiently investigated".

Commenting on Garcia's decision to launch new investigations, Pieth told World Football INSIDER today: "I am quite happy that he is there now and is actually doing what we are expecting him to do and that is looking at possible cases... anything that would
Garcia and Hans-Joachim Eckert, chairman of FIFA Ethics Committee's adjudicatory chamber, outside FIFA headquarters in Zurich last month (Getty)
fall under the ethics code."

In a separate development, FIFA Executive Committee member Theo Zwanziger has restated his calls for an investigation into the scandal-hit bidding process the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

In an interview with the German investigative journalist Jens Weinrich, Zwanziger said the decision to award hosting rights to Russia and Qatar should be reviewed, adding: "The World Cup 2006 award must also be checked if there were indications that I do not know."

Zwanziger made similar comments in June 2011 on the sidelines of the FIFA Congress at which Blatter was re-elected for a fourth term.

Last month at a news conference in Zurich, Garcia invited any “credible complaint of corruption” from whistleblowers and the public to come forward.

“The scope of any investigation depends on facts and circumstances,” Garcia was quoted by Bloomberg. "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 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.

By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson

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