Sepp Blatter rules out revisiting World Cup vote

Fifa agrees to publish Garcia into 2018 and 2022 bidding process ‘where legally possible’

Fifa president Sepp Blatter has ruled out revisiting the vote on the 2018 and 2022 World Cups (Photograph: Adam Davy/PA Wire)

Fifa president Sepp Blatter has ruled out revisiting the vote on the 2018 and 2022 World Cups (Photograph: Adam Davy/PA Wire)

 

Fifa president Sepp Blatter has ruled out revisiting the vote for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups after the world governing body’s executive committee agreed unanimously that an “appropriate” form of the Garcia report should be published.

Blatter said “external legal experts” supported the view that “there are no legal grounds” to revoke the controversial vote in 2010 to award the World Cups to Russia and Qatar, said Blatter in a statement.

Fifa’s executive committee agreed unanimously that an “appropriate” form of the report into World Cup bidding by Michael Garcia, the ethics investigator who resigned earlier this week, should be published but with names and other details removed.

Officials at a meeting in Morocco agreed to the proposal without a vote being taken– but nothing will be published until the ethics committee charges against three Fifa ExCo members – Angel Villar Llona of Spain, Belgium’s Michel D’Hooghe and Thailand’s Worawi Makudi – have been dealt with.

American lawyer Garcia produced a 430-page report into the bidding for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. He quit on Wednesday as Fifa’s ethics investigator after losing his appeal challenging the findings to clear Russia and Qatar to host the World Cups.

The Fifa ExCo meeting in Marrakech was given a presentation by Domenico Scala, the head of Fifa’s audit and compliance committee, who suggested the report should be published in an “appropriate form” – with all names and other details redacted. This was agreed to by the members without a vote, though it is understood there were some strong views expressed questioning how much of the report should be made public.

Blatter said in a statement: “The report is about history and I am focused on the future. We will not revisit the 2018 and 2022 vote and a report by independent, external legal experts commissioned by Mr Scala supports the view that there are no legal grounds to revoke the executive committee’s decision on the award of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

“We also need to remember that while the report is complete, the investigations flowing from it are not. We must ensure that we do not jeopardise those investigations and the proceedings against various individuals already initiated by the independent ethics committee. Participants in the investigation also deserve to have their rights respected.

“It is clear that while a summary of the report was issued, the publication of this report has become a barrier to rebuilding public confidence and trust in Fifa. Part of this is due to the fact that we have been deliberate in the way that we have moved through the process. We need to ensure that we respect the rules of our organisation and that we do not breach confidentiality in a way that will prevent people from speaking out in the future.”

Fifa vice-president Jim Boyce, from Northern Ireland, welcomed the move to publish the report in some form.

He said: “I am pleased the the Fifa executive committee decided without a vote to publish this report. It shows that people at Fifa at the moment do desire transparency and the sooner we can get on with talking about the game of football that we all love, the better.”

Fifa’s ExCo appointed Zurich-based Swiss lawyer Cornel Borbely to replace Garcia in an acting capacity. Borbely had been Garcia’s deputy and took charge of the investigation into the Russian and American bids.

Borbely’s main task will be to take over the cases of Fifa ExCo members Villar Llona, D’Hooghe and Makudi, who all had proceedings opened against them by Garcia for either alleged code breaches during the 2018/2022 bidding process or for failing to comply with his investigations.

Garcia had also opened proceedings against former ExCo member Franz Beckenbauer, the former Germany player and coach, and Harold Mayne-Nicholls, the head of Fifa’s inspection team which compiled a technical report on the countries bidding for 2018 and 2022.

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