The report was spearheaded by American attorney Michael Garcia, who called FIFA’s interpretation of his findings a whitewash:
Garcia also has requested in the past that FIFA release the results of the investigation in full. The report issued Thursday by Hans-Joachim Eckert, chairman of FIFA’s executive committee, is only a summary of Garcia’s findings.
The report’s findings on Qatar’s bid center on Mohammed bin Hammam, a Qatari who is the former president of the Asian Football Confederation.
The report says Hammam “made several different improper payments to high-ranking [Confederation of African Football] officials” before Qatar won the World Cup hosting vote on Dec. 2, 2010. However, the report says the investigation’s findings do not “support the conclusion that the purpose of these payments was to promote the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup bid.”
Hammam has twice been banned for life from world soccer by FIFA, once in 2011 (the ban was overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in 2012 for lack of evidence) and again in 2013.
In regards to Russia’s bid, the report notes that “the Russia 2018 Bid Committee made only a limited amount of documents available for review, which was explained by the fact that the computers used at the time by the Russia Bid Committee had been leased and then returned to their owner after the Bidding Process. The owner has confirmed that the computers were destroyed in the meantime.”
The report also says that FIFA investigators tried to obtain the GMail accounts used by Russia’s bid committee, but that Google never responded to their request.
FIFA investigators found that members of Japan’s bid committee said they had entered into a vote-trading agreement with Russia over, but the report says investigators could find no concrete evidence to support that assertion. They also found that any gifts bestowed by Russia appear “to have been in line with the relevant FIFA rules of conduct” and were only “of a symbolic and incidental value.”
While FIFA found no significant wrongdoing in the Russia and Qatar bids, it did uncover improprieties with the losing bids involving England (which lost to Russia for the 2018 tournament) and Australia (which lost to Qatar).
The report says the England bid committee accommodated “inappropriate requests” from CONCACAF President Jack Warner, who “sought to exploit the perception of his power to control ‘blocks of votes’ within the FIFA Executive Committee. According to the report, “England’s bid team [helped] a person of interest to [Warner] find a part-time job in the UK.” The report also says the England bid committee “appeared willing” to provide benefits to the Joe Public Football Club, a team in Trinidad and Tobago owned by Warner, though the report notes that it’s unclear whether any benefits were ultimately proferred.
“There are indications that the Australia 2022 bid team attempted to direct funds the Australian government had set aside for existing development projects in Africa toward initiatives in countries with ties to FIFA Executive Committee members with the intention to advance its bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup,” the report says in regards to Australia’s failed bid.
The report found that the United States’ failed 2022 bid was on the level, finding “no evidence in the record that would indicate that the USA 2022 Bid committee engaged in any conduct aimed an influencing the bidding process by colluding or collaborating with another bid committee, member association, or FIFA Executive Committee member.
Whether the 2022 event in Qatar will be played in the summer, as is traditionally the case, is still unclear. Summertime temperatures in the Arab country are seen as prohibitive to competitive soccer, and FIFA is contemplating playing the event in the winter for the first time.