Wednesday 17 December 2014 20:49, UK
Michael Garcia, who led the investigation into the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding process, has resigned from the FIFA ethics committee in protest over the handling of his findings.
The former US attorney dropped his bombshell on the eve of the latest meeting of FIFA's executive committee (ExCo) in Marrakesh, citing a "lack of leadership" at the top of FIFA in a lengthy resignation statement.
Garcia also made it clear he disagreed with FIFA's decision to declare the investigation into the bidding process closed.
No independent governance committee, investigator, or arbitration panel can change the culture of an organisation.
The original report, he said, "identified serious and wide-ranging issues with the bidding and selection process" which were not accurately reflected in a summary of his findings released in November by his ethics committee colleague, German judge Hans-Joachim Eckert.
Garcia appealed against the 'Eckert Decision' but was told this week that appeal was inadmissable, a ruling that proved a step too far and prompted a damning sign-off.
In it he argued the one recourse left open to him - to take his appeal over the report to the Court of Arbitration for Sport - was not practical and said "no independent governance committee, investigator, or arbitration panel can change the culture of an organisation."
He also claimed FIFA tried to discipline him for calling for the full publication of his report and said of Eckert's summary: "When viewed in the context of the report it purported to summarise, no principled approach could justify the Eckert Decision’s edits, omissions, and additions."
He wrote: "For the first two years after my July 2012 appointment as independent Chairman of the FIFA Ethics Committee’s Investigatory Chamber, I felt that the Ethics Committee was making real progress in advancing ethics enforcement at FIFA. In recent months, that changed...
“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."
The work of the ethics committee will nonetheless continue and will be a central part of the discussions at the ExCo meeting in the next two days.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter said: "I am surprised by Mr Garcia’s decision. The work of the ethics committee will nonetheless continue and will be a central part of the discussions at the ExCo meeting in the next two days.”
And Jerome Champagne, who will challenge Blatter for FIFA's presidency next year, said: "Michael Garcia's resignation is a step backwards.
"We needed to know what happened before and after the 2010 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?"