World Cup probe in turmoil after FIFA report

GENEVA (AP) — Hours after a FIFA judge cleared Russia and Qatar of corruption in their winning World Cup
bids, the American who led the investigation said Thursday he would appeal the decision to close the
case because it was based on "materially incomplete and erroneous" information.

In what appears to be an open act of conflict within FIFA, prosecutor Michael Garcia criticized ethics
judge Joachim Eckert’s 42-page report clearing the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosts.

Eckert’s findings, which were released Thursday morning, were based on Garcia’s investigation. Despite
finding wrongdoing among the 11 bidding nations, Eckert said the integrity of the December 2010 votes
was not affected.

The dispute between Garcia and Eckert further fueled the turmoil surrounding FIFA’s decision to give the
next two World Cups to Russia and Qatar. Questions about the integrity and validity of the hosting
decision have been raised ever since the vote by FIFA’s executive committee.

"Today’s decision by (Eckert) contains numerous materially incomplete and erroneous representations
of the facts and conclusions detailed in the Investigatory Chamber’s report," Garcia said in a
statement released by his law firm. "I intend to appeal this decision to the FIFA Appeal
Committee."

Garcia had called for key details of his 430 pages of investigation to be published, provoking clashes
with FIFA President Sepp Blatter.

Eckert’s report seemed to confirm that the 2022 World Cup would definitely be played in Qatar — though
exactly when is still unclear as FIFA seeks an alternative to the desert heat in June and July. Qatar
has also come under scrutiny for its treatment of foreign laborers.

"FIFA welcomes the fact that a degree of closure has been reached," the governing body said
Thursday in a statement before Garcia announced his objections. "As such, FIFA looks forward to
continuing the preparations for Russia 2018 and Qatar 2022, which are already well underway."

Eckert formally ended the probe almost four years after the vote by the governing body’s scandal-tainted
executive committee. No proof was found of bribes or voting pacts in a probe hampered by a lack of
access to evidence and uncooperative witnesses.

"The evaluation of the 2018/2022 FIFA World Cups bidding process is closed for the FIFA Ethics
Committee," the German judge wrote in a statement released by FIFA.

Both winners, however, had issues highlighted by Eckert.

Qatar’s bid had "potentially problematic facts and circumstances," plus a "significant
lack of transparency" in its use of advisers. Computers leased for use by Russia staffers were
later destroyed.

Eckert’s report reserved his harshest condemnation for England’s failed bid for the 2018 tournament. It
criticized England for wooing disgraced former FIFA vice president Jack Warner and "damaging the
image of FIFA and the bidding process."

The corruption case is still open for past and current members of FIFA’s ruling board, but it is unclear
who might be targeted.

Critics of FIFA have long relied on Eckert and Garcia to build a case to remove the wealthy desert
emirate as host in 2022 by proving suspicions that votes and influence were bought. Qatar beat the
United States 14-8 in the final round of a five-nation contest.

The Qatari organizing committee said it would study the report before commenting.

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