UEFA president Michel Platini urges FIFA members to cooperate
UEFA president Michel Platini says he would condemn any possible attempt to block FIFA’s ethics chief’s investigation into the bidding for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
Michael Garcia, the head of the investigatory chamber of FIFA’s ethics committee, is in the middle of his investigation and Platini says the US attorney’s probe must be allowed to continue to the very end.
It has emerged that several FIFA executive committee members were unhappy to be subjected to interviews by Garcia last week with hardly any advance warning. There were even rumblings from some members about whether Garcia should be kept on, and suggestions that he may have a conflict of interest in that he is American and the United States lost out to Qatar in the 2022 vote.
Platini, who had no issue with being interviewed by Garcia, said in a statement to Press Association Sport: "I would condemn any possible attempt derail the investigation and I want the process to continue to the very end."
Russia won the bid for the 2018 tournament, in which England lost in the first round, but FIFA later admitted it was a mistake to hold the votes for the two bids at the same time in December 2010.
Garcia and his team are interviewing all the bidding countries, though it is understood he has yet to speak to the winning bid teams. He arrived unannounced in Zurich last week and demanded interviews with all the FIFA members who took part in the 2010 votes.
Britain’s FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce, who was not in the position in 2010, said he had heard talk of the disgruntlement with Garcia but that the issue was not raised in last week’s executive committee.
Boyce added: "If this had been proposed at the ExCo meeting or I thought for one moment Garcia would be removed in any fashion from carrying out his full investigation, I and others would be aghast and would have had to consider our positions because things at FIFA have been improving greatly."
Any move by the executive committee to interfere with the ethics committee would have run up against FIFA’s constitution which states the investigatory body is independent.
Asia’s FIFA vice-president Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan said: "I am very happy that Michael Garcia will continue in his work. There were some questions raised about the necessity of having an independent ethics committee but to be honest, I think that idea was stopped.
"There were certain people like myself who could not accept that this could happen. He was supported by our Congress and given a mandate and I am very happy he will continue with his work."
Garcia is also investigating reports of payments being made between disgraced former FIFA members Mohamed Bin Hammam from Qatar and Trinidad’s Jack Warner in 2011. Bin Hammam was standing against Sepp Blatter for the FIFA presidency but withdrew after being caught up in a corruption scandal.