The investigative attorney hired to probe FIFA’s World Cup bidding process resigned on Wednesday, citing an inherent “lack of leadership” atop FIFA’s organization.
Michael Garcia questioned the independence of FIFA’s ethics committee, headed by Hans-Joachim Eckert, in the wake of the team’s summary report regarding Garcia’s findings this summer. In the 430-page report, which was never made public, Garcia detailed FIFA’s dubious bidding process for the rights to host the 2018 (Russia) and 2022 (Qatar) World Cups. Eckert, in summarizing the report, said there wasn’t sufficient evidence to prove any corruption and that neither country should be stripped of its chance to host the tournament.
Garcia evidently lost faith in the organization after claiming that Eckert’s report contained numerous “incomplete and erroneous representations of the facts.” Garcia filed an appeal to amend the summary report, which was denied on Tuesday. One day later, he resigned.
“[The] Eckert decision made me lose confidence in the independence of the Adjudicatory Committee, [but] it is the lack of leadership on these issues within FIFA that leads me to conclude that my role in this process has come to an end,” Garcia wrote in his resignation letter. “No independent governance committee, investigator, or arbitration panel can change the culture of an organization,” he continued.
Beginning in 2012, Garcia began a deeply thorough investigation involving hundreds of interviews and thousands of documents, but Eckert’s summary report seemed to mitigate its ultimate impact.
“When viewed in the context of the report it purported to summarize, no principled approach could justify the Eckert Decision’s edits, omissions and additions,” Garcia concluded. “For the first two years … I felt that the ethics committee was making real progress in advancing ethics enforcement at FIFA. In recent months, that changed.”
Despite his resignation, there are still pending cases against five FIFA officials that will continue.