In what can only be seen as a leave of person ethics, Hans-Joachim Eckert, the German judge deciding what action to take following FIFA’s investigation into alleged corruption surrounding the 2018 and 2022 World Cup votes, has said he doubted “if football and ethics can still fit together.” This was before yesterday’s announcement that a decision on the 2018 and 2022 World Cups bidding corruption inquiry is unlikely to be made until next spring.
FIFA’s investigation was delivered by New York attorney Michael Garcia at the beginning of this month but one matter Eckert did not address was whether he would make the report public, despite being urged to do so by a number of FIFA executive committee members.
Garcia’s probe into the allegations of bribery lasted more than a year with hundreds of people involved in the bids for the two World Cups interviewed by his team of investigators. The Qatari organisers of the 2022 World Cup have repeatedly said they are confident of being cleared of any wrongdoing in the bidding process for the finals while the Russians have also brushed off suggestions their bid was flawed.
Sadly, for most fans, Eckert says he will limit his verdicts to individuals and in doing so will disappoint critics who support a re-vote for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments adding such a decision would be for FIFA’s ruling executive committee or its congress of 209 federations.
“The judgement may be the base for a decision in sports politics, but we will not make any recommendations. That is not our job,” Eckert said.
It doesn’t do much to inspire confidence in FIFA’s battered reputation but we can but hope. The longer this continues, the greater the inevitable fall will be. If Blatter is elected president again, it will be harder still for FIFA to be seen as an organisation committed to reform because the scandals that have so tarnished its reputation happened under his watch.
But should he publish the investigation into the World Cup bids, reconsider the need for independent oversight and announce World Cup hosts will be voted on by 209 national associations rather than its executive committee, it would at least be a start.