US lawyer Michael Garcia quits as head of FIFA’s ethics committee
US lawyer Michael Garcia has resigned as FIFA’s independent ethics investigator after losing his appeal challenging the findings to clear Russia and Qatar to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
Garcia has issued a statement criticising FIFA’s "lack of leadership", saying he cannot change the culture of the world governing body.
He said: "Accordingly, effective today, December 17, 2014, I am resigning as independent chairman of the investigatory chamber of the FIFA ethics committee."
Garcia, who discovered on Tuesday that he had lost his appeal against the findings by ethics judge Hans-Joachim Eckert, said it would have been "impractical" to take the appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
His statement adds: "The appeal committee also overlooked the Eckert decision’s self-described ‘findings’, including one stating that "the evaluation of the 2018/2022 FIFA World Cups bidding process is closed for the FIFA ethics committee.
"FIFA president [Sepp] Blatter recently reaffirmed that ‘finding’ during an interview published by FIFA, stating: ‘Furthermore, there is no change to Judge Eckert’s statement that the investigation into the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups is concluded.’
"I disagree with the appeal committee’s decision. It now appears that, at least for the foreseeable future, the Eckert decision will stand as the final word on the 2018/2022 FIFA World Cup bidding process."
Garcia’s investigation into the bidding had seen him deliver a 430-page report to Eckert, and FIFA’s executive committee meeting in Marrakesh on Thursday and Friday are due to vote on whether that should be published but with the names redacted.
Garcia himself called for his report to be published back in September – but has now revealed he found himself reported to FIFA’s disciplinary committee for doing so, though no action was taken.
The American attorney has raised questions over the findings by Eckert, a German judge.
He said: "The issues raised by Mr Eckert’s selection and omission of material from the report, and his additional comments, went far beyond the initial transparency concerns. "
Garcia also cast doubt on Eckert’s independence, saying: "No independent governance committee, investigator, or arbitration panel can change the culture of an organisation.
"And while the November 13, 2014, Eckert decision made me lose confidence in the independence of the adjudicatory chamber, it is the lack of leadership on these issues within FIFA that leads me to conclude that my role in this process is at an end."
UEFA president Michel Platini described Garcia’s resignation as a "failure" for FIFA.
Platini said: "FIFA’s ethics committee was created to increase transparency at the organisation, that’s what we wanted, but in the end it has just caused more confusion. Mr. Garcia’s resignation is a new failure for FIFA."
Jerome Champagne, the former FIFA executive who plans to stand for the FIFA presidency, said: "Michael Garcia’s resignation is a step backwards.
"We needed to know what happened before and after the 2 December 2010 [World Cup] vote. Today more than ever we need to know.
"When will the facts be known fully, transparently and above all without suspicion? When will we be able to start rebuilding FIFA’s image?"