A report by FIFA has cleared Qatar and Russia of corruption in their successful bids to host the soccer World Cup, but the report has plunged the sport's governing body into more controversy.
The report, by German judge Hans-Jochaim Eckert, examined the actions of nine countries that in 2010 bid to stage the 2018 and 2022 Word Cups. Russia won the bid for 2018; Qatar, 2022.
England, which expected to win the 2018 bidding process, received two votes. Qatar edged out rivals including Japan and the U.S.
Almost immediately there were accusations of corruption surrounding the winning bids.
Eckert's report, which was based on the work of U.S. lawyer Michael Garcia, said there was no evidence of wrongdoing by either country. But Garcia himself said today's report contained "numerous materially incomplete and erroneous representations." He said he would appeal to FIFA Eckert's decision to close the case. FIFA has sealed Garcia's 430-page report, instead releasing a 42-page statement from Eckert.
Eckert's report also criticized England's Football Association for aggressively seeking the support of a key FIFA voter for its bid to stage the 2018 World Cup. FA Chairman Greg Dyke called the report and process "a bit of a joke."
The Associated Press has more on Garcia's view:
"Garcia had called for key details of his investigation to be published. That provoked clashes with [FIFA chief Sepp] Blatter, who has helped protect the privacy of his boardroom colleagues implicated in seeking favors.
"Garcia's sealed report criticizes a culture of entitlement at FIFA and the quality of Blatter's leadership, an official familiar with Garcia's findings told The Associated Press. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the dossier is supposed to be confidential.
"Garcia could be suspended by FIFA if he publicly reveals details of the case, and removed from office when the 209 member associations meet at their congress next May 29. On that same day, Blatter is expected to be elected to a fifth term."
FIFA, of course, is no stranger to controversy. It has long been accused of secrecy and corruption. Earlier this year, comedian John Oliver railed against soccer's governing body on his Last Week Tonight show in HBO. We'll leave you with the video: