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Mussenden committee denies Garcia’s FIFA appeal

Michael Garcia's appeal against Hans-Joachim Eckert statement on his investigation into 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding process has been ruled inadmissible.

The FIFA Appeals Committee, which is chaired by Larry Mussenden, the Bermuda Football Association president, also said there were no grounds for opening disciplinary proceedings against Eckert.

Garcia had claimed there were “numerous materially incomplete and erroneous representations” in Eckert's summary of his report, while whistle-blowers claimed the ethics judge had identified them and revealed the evidence they had given.

However, the committee, which met in Zurich last week, denied the appeal on the grounds that Eckert's statement did not constitute a decision, therefore was not legally biding, or subject to appeal.

“Further, the FIFA Appeal Committee reiterated that the FIFA code of ethics (FCE) is designed to sanction individuals in cases in which the code has been violated,” FIFA said. “The said statement is not addressed to one or several specific individual(s) and as such does not contain any sanctions in accordance with article 30 of the FCE.”

The row surrounding the report has plunged FIFA into chaos, and politicians in several countries have called for police investigations into the allegations of corruption surrounding the successful bids from Qatar and Russia.

Garcia has said that more of his report should be made public. He met with Eckert and they agreed the report should be given a further review.

They also decided that Domenico Scala, head of FIFA's audit and compliance committee, should decide how much of Garcia's report will be presented to FIFA's executive committee, whose next meeting is in Marrakesh on Friday.

FIFA and Qatar World Cup organisers have been fending off allegations of corruption ever since the Gulf state was awarded the 2022 tournament.

FIFA also dismissed a complaint by whistle-blowers Phaedra Al-Majid and Bonita Mersiades, who said their confidentiality was compromised after giving evidence to Garcia's investigation.

“The chairman stressed that since the participants in the investigation had gone public with their own media activities long before the publication of the statement of the chairman of the adjudicatory chamber Judge Eckert, the breach of confidentiality claim had no substance,” FIFA said.

No names were mentioned in the statement, the ruling body added, and any information provided was of a general nature.

“Thus, there was no divulgence of any information of a confidential nature,” FIFA said.

The latest ruling is unlikely to be the end of the matter, and Garcia could pursue a further appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Before that though, there are the meetings in Marrakesh, where the main issue for Sepp Blatter, the FIFA president, and his executive committee, will be to decide what to do with Garcia's 430-page dossier.

The FIFA Code of Ethics demands that it remains sealed, however, that is unlikely to quieten the growing clamour for transparency into a process that many are convinced was far from being above board.

Scala has been analysing Garcia's report and must decide how much of it he will present to the 27-member FIFA executive committee.

Blatter's ruling committee should then decide if the case against bid candidates — also including much-criticised bids from Australia and England — has anywhere to go.

Some board members believe FIFA needs to publish Garcia's work in full to have a chance of restoring shattered public faith in football's traditionally secretive governing body.

Garcia himself has called for “appropriate publication” — getting key evidence out in the public domain while redacting names to protect some of the 75 witnesses who cooperated with his two-year inquiry.

That view is supported by Michel Platini, who as president of UEFA is a FIFA vice president, even though veteran European officials are in Garcia's crosshairs.

Publication could fuel public disquiet at the choice of Russia and Qatar by a widely discredited FIFA executive committee which, in December 2010, contained several now disgraced members.

Or it could hurt Garcia's own reputation if some allegations which have been widely reported were not nailed.

Garcia's appeal loss does not affect his ongoing prosecutions of five men, including Franz Beckenbauer, the Germany great and former FIFA board member, for wrongdoing in the bid campaign.

Garcia also opened proceedings against three current FIFA board members — FIFA vice president Angel Maria Villar of Spain, Michel D'Hooghe of Belgium and Worawi Makudi of Thailand.

They also face sanctions for their actions during bid contests marred by claims of bribery, collusion and favour-seeking, and the subsequent investigation.

The fifth official charged is former Chile football leader Harold Mayne-Nicholls, who FIFA chose to lead an inspection team evaluating the nine candidates in 2010. Longtime FIFA sceptics note that the case against Mayne-Nicholls has intensified while he has been considering running against Blatter for president in May.

Indeed, the FIFA appeals panel urged Garcia yesterday to finish his work prosecuting individuals.

His 430-page dossier was not a final report and “neither cites any rule violations of an accused person, nor does it contain any kind of recommendation to the adjudicatory chamber for sanctioning an accused person,” the panel said.

Appeal denied: Larry Mussenden is chairman of the FIFA Appeals Committee

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Published December 17, 2014 at 8:00 am (Updated December 16, 2014 at 11:02 pm)

Mussenden committee denies Garcia’s FIFA appeal

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