Updated at 3:21pm with a statement from the author of the report, Michael Garcia, and at 6:38pm with response from FIFA.
The findings, which were greeted with criticism from some, likely indicate that FIFA’s executive committee will not take any steps to move the tournament out of Qatar.
However, this afternoon, Michael Garcia, chairman of the investigatory chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee and author of the report, issued a statement criticizing the conclusions drawn by the governing football body’s summary. He said:
“Today’s decision by the Chairman of the Adjudicatory Chamber contains numerous materially incomplete and erroneous representations of the facts and conclusions detailed in the Investigatory Chamber’s report. I intend to appeal this decision to the FIFA Appeal Committee.”
His remarks indicate that the probe into Qatar and Russia’s bids may not be closed after all:
FIFA prosecutor Michael Garcia to appeal FIFA ethics judge's decision to close corruption probe into Russia, Qatar World Cup bids.
— Steve Wilson (@SteveWilson_LDN) November 13, 2014
Garcia's report is apparently far more critical of Blatter than Eckert's version. This is truly humiliating for Fifa.
— Henry Winter (@henrywinter) November 13, 2014
In a statement sent to Doha News this evening, a FIFA spokesperson said the organization was aware of reports that Garcia had commented on the matter. But it added:
“For the time-being, FIFA has not been officially notified of this statement and is therefore not in a position to further comment on this matter at this stage. We will follow-up in due time.”
The report does not completely exonerate Qatar, but says the misdeeds of individuals connected to the country’s bid did not discredit the overall process.
“The potentially problematic facts and circumstances identified by the Report regarding the Qatar 2022 bid were, all in all, not suited to compromise the integrity of the FIFA World Cup 2018/2022 bidding process as a whole.”
Qatar’s World Cup organizing body, the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, said it needed time to review today’s report before commenting.
Thursday’s report is a 42-page summary of the 430-page document submitted to football’s governing body in September by ethics investigator Michael Garcia.
The US attorney spent two years looking into allegations of bribery and corruption surrounding the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup tournaments.
The report is critical of many of the bidders who vied to host the football competitions, including Australia, England, Qatar and Russia.
Accusations that individuals connected to Qatar’s World Cup bid bribed FIFA officials in exchange for votes began surfacing soon after the Gulf country was awarded the tournament in late 2010.
And fresh allegations surfaced earlier this year when British newspaper the Sunday Times published a series of front-page articles based on “millions” of documents that it said showed Qatar bribed FIFA executive committee members with payments totaling some $5 million to help secure support for its bid.
The Sunday Times specifically highlighted the alleged role of Mohamed Bin Hammam, a Qatari official who formerly served as president of the Asian Football Confederation.
According to the newspaper, the documents showed that he built support for the Gulf state among African football officials through several payments, parties and gifts – which FIFA officials are not allowed to accept – helping to buy the four votes of African ExCo members.
However, today’s report said Bin Hammam’s payments to the Confederation of African Football officials were related to his bid to become the president of FIFA, rather than Qatar’s quest to host the World Cup. It added that the individuals who received “benefits” were not in a position to influence the 2022 bidding process in Qatar’s favor.
For its part, Qatar’s World Cup organizing body, the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, has long distanced itself from Bin Hammam – who was banned from football for life by FIFA – saying he played no official or unofficial role in Qatar’s 2022 Bid Committee.
Many international critics have called for Qatar to be stripped of the World Cup, and it appeared FIFA’s report did little to change their opinions:
— James Tippins (@JamesTippinsUK) November 13, 2014
So FIFA Enquiry clears #Qatar of any wrongdoing. I wonder how much that cost then.
— dezzafromscarborough (@dezza2542) November 13, 2014
But others hoped the report would put an end to the allegations that have dogged Qatar’s bid:
While much of the public focus of the FIFA investigation has been on Qatar and the 2022 World Cup, the report also looks into the bidding process for the 2018 tournament, which was won by Russia.
Today’s report notes that Russia failed to co-operate with investigators and claimed that many electronic records were erased after it was awarded the World Cup.
The report closes by criticizing the media and general discourse around the allegations, noting that what constitutes “corruption” in the context of a World Cup bid is murky at best:
“Promoting football projects, retaining highly professional support for submitting a bid and state subsidies are located in a certain gray area surrounding the bidding process and the vote on FIFA World Cup hosts. The fact alone that senior politicians take interest in a country’s bid in the context of an official state visit that takes place for different purposes is not per se suspicious … To assume, e.g., that envelopes full of cash are given in exchange for votes on a FIFA World Cup host is naive.”
It added that FIFA’s ethics committee needed to not only find evidence of “corruptive payments … attributed to specific individuals or entities” but also be able to link it to a particular misconduct.
Here’s a copy of FIFA’s report:[scribd id=246449944 key=key-RWbZRI6wm55wdlPX02qB mode=scroll]