Sports

Leaked secret report sparks fresh controversy at Fifa

German newspaper Bild has obtained a copy of the original Garcia report, which will heap more suspicion on Qatar's World Cup bid

Qatar's successful bid for the 2022 World Cup looks set to become mired in fresh controversy after the leaking of a secret Fifa report into the 2010 bidding contests.

That highly controversial process saw Russia beat several European bids, including England's, to win the right to host the 2018 World Cup and the tiny but wealthy Gulf state overcame the likes of the United States for 2022.

After repeated claims about corruption in the run-up to those votes, Fifa asked its then-chief ethics investigator Michael Garcia to compile a report into the bidding nations for both World Cups.

His 430-page investigation has never been published. Instead, Fifa put out a 42-page summary which Garcia promptly disowned.

But now, German newspaper Bild has obtained a copy of the original, which Garcia produced in 2014.

It is understood that its contents will be published in two parts - yesterday and today - but the lead journalist Peter Rossberg began releasing extracts via social media on Monday night.

The early indications are that his scoop will heap more suspicion on Qatar's bid, in particular.

Among the early revelations from the Garcia report are claims that the Qataris flew three members of Fifa's executive committee to a party in Rio on a private jet shortly before the December 2010 vote on the 2018/2022 hosts, the Qatari bid used access to its state-of-the-art Aspire sports academy to influence voters, and £1.6 million (S$2.83m) was sent to a bank account belonging to the 10-year-old daughter of another exco voter.

The Bild exclusive also reveals how Fifa sanitised Garcia's findings in the summary of his report by Fifa ethics judge Joachim Eckert.

In a section on how the Qatari bid used Aspire, which had satellite operations in five countries with Fifa voters, to "curry favour with executive committee members", Garcia wrote "those actions served to undermine the integrity of the bidding process".

But Eckert translated this as "potentially problematic facts and circumstances" which "were, all in all, not suited to compromise the integrity of the Fifa World Cup 2018/2022 bidding process as a whole".

An indignant Garcia returned to the US, accusing Eckert of making "numerous materially incomplete and erroneous representations".

In response to the latest revelations, Fifa yesterday published the full Garcia report on its website.

It said in a statement: "The new chairpersons of the independent Ethics Committee, Maria Claudia Rojas of the investigatory chamber and Vassilios Skouris of the adjudicatory chamber, have decided to publish the Report on the Inquiry into the 2018/2022 Fifa World Cup Bidding Process.

"This had been called for on numerous occasions by Fifa president Gianni Infantino in the past and also supported by the Fifa Council since its meeting in Mexico City in May 2016.

"Despite these regular requests, it is worth noting that the former chairpersons of the ethics committee, Cornel Borbely and Hans-Joachim Eckert, had always refused to publish it." - WIRE SERVICES

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