Fifa corruption report: Judge 'surprised' at Garcia criticism

By Dan RoanBBC sports editor
Michael Garcia and Hans-Joachim Eckert
Hans-Joachim Eckert (right) based his findings on the work of American lawyer Michael Garcia (left)

Ethics judge Hans-Joachim Eckert says he is "surprised" by public criticism from Fifa colleague Michael Garcia over his report into the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

Eckert's report into allegations of corruption was published on Thursday.

A few hours later, Garcia, who spent two years investigating the claims of wrongdoing, publicly criticised it.

Garcia revealed to the BBC that he did not see Eckert's final report before it was released to the media.

Eckert's 42-page document cleared Russia and Qatar of corruption after they were chosen to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups respectively, but it criticised England of flouting bid rules.

Fifa ethics chief Hans-Joachim Eckert
"A lot of my report was word for word from the Garcia report."

But less than four hours after its publication, Garcia, an American lawyer, issued a statement claiming it was "erroneous".

Just what Garcia thinks is wrong in Eckert's report is not yet clear, but Fifa later acknowledged it was aware that he intends to appeal.

Eckert, chairman of the adjudicatory chamber of Fifa's independent ethics committee, told BBC Sport: "I'm surprised, not shocked. I'm a long time in the job here. I don't think anything surprises me."

Dyke wants Garcia report published

He also defended his work.

"A lot of my report was word for word from the Garcia report," he said.

Garcia's criticism prompted a number of key football figures, among them English Football Association chairman Greg Dyke, to call for his original findings, which are contained in a document that runs to several hundred pages, to be published in full.

Those calls were echoed on Friday by Fifa executive committee members Jeffrey Webb and Sunil Gulati.

They claim that the "disagreement" between Eckert and Garcia as well as the need for "complete transparency" means the full report should be made public "as soon as possible".

They added: "Providing the entire independent report for inspection is in the best interest of the game and Fifa."

Despite these pleas, Eckert said he would not take that step.

"I don't think that's possible because I have to respect the rights of confidentiality for continental law," said the German.

"Maybe it's another thing in the US, but in continental law I can't do it, and I can't do it in total even by the Fifa code of ethics. I will not do it."

Following Garcia's statement, Dyke said Fifa's report into World Cup corruption was now pointless and "a joke".

But Eckert disagreed, saying: "It's not a real problem because I have made a statement and no decision.

"But in the statement it's written down he can go further, and make a final report, and I can prove the final report."

Eckert then released a statement on Friday evening saying he had been in touch with Garcia and that they would meet face-to-face to discuss the American's concerns.

Meanwhile, the man who led the technical bid inspections into the 2018 and 2022 World Cups is under investigation by Fifa for allegedly breaching its code of ethics.

Harold Maynes Nicholls, a Chilean national who is considering standing against Sepp Blatter in next year's Fifa presidential election, is under scrutiny for his links with a Qatari sporting academy.

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