A possible split between old and new FIFA executive committee members has emerged ahead of the vote on Friday on whether the Garcia report into World Cup bidding should be published.
It follows a suggestion by FIFA president Sepp Blatter at the previous ExCo meeting that only those members who were on the committee for the 2010 vote should have a say on the report’s publication. That would rule out more than half the current members and if Blatter tries to resurrect the move at the meeting in Marrakesh on Friday he is likely to face sustained opposition.
One FIFA member told Press Association Sport: "If it is raised again, I would strongly oppose it."
US lawyer Michael Garcia’s resignation as FIFA’s ethics investigator has put further pressure on the world governing body, and the executive committee will vote on whether his report should be published but with names redacted. At the previous ExCo meeting in September, several members confirmed that Blatter suggested those members elected since the December 2010 vote should not have a say on the Garcia report’s publication.
Only 13 of the 22 members who awarded the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar respectively remain on the ExCo – there are now 25 members plus a further two co-opted members. Not all the older members would support such a move by Blatter however – it is understood UEFA president Michel Platini, who has previously backed publishing the report, would be in favor of a free vote involving all members.
Another intriguing aspect of the meeting is that the three FIFA members understood to have been under investigation by Garcia for potential ethics code breaches are expected to be permitted to take part in the vote.
Spain’s Angel Villar Llona, Belgium’s Michel D’Hooghe and Thailand’s Worawi Makudi were all under investigation by Garcia for either alleged code breaches during the 2018, 2022 bidding process or for failing to comply with his investigations. He had also opened proceedings against former ExCo member Franz Beckenbauer, the former West Germany player and manager, and Harold Mayne-Nicholls, the head of FIFA’s inspection team which compiled a technical report on the bidding countries.
Garcia resigned as chairman of the investigatory chamber of FIFA’s independent ethics committee on Wednesday after losing his appeal challenging the findings to clear Russia and Qatar to host the World Cups. Garcia issued a hard-hitting statement criticizing FIFA’s "lack of leadership" and saying he cannot change the culture of the world governing body.
Britain’s FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce said Garcia’s resignation was "damaging."
Boyce told Sky Sports News: "I am totally shocked. It must be damaging. Michael Garcia is someone of the very highest credibility. He must feel very, very strongly about certain things when it has got to this stage. I have always said that as much of that (Garcia) report, as legally possible, should now be put in the public domain. I honestly feel that this has got to a stage now where people are absolutely fed up with it. We need to bring it to a conclusion.
"Until this situation is completely resolved, and brought to a head, I’m sorry, but FIFA’s reputation is always going to be damaged."