Garcia report unmasks a seedy culture open to ‘abuse’, but no smoking gun

By Paul Nicholson and Samindra Kunti

June 28 – The Garcia report into the 2018/2022 World Cup bidding procedures is both as revealing as it is, for the most part, old news. It shows the political depths that the individuals on FIFA’s executive committee would go to solicit favours from bidders; it also shows how far bids will push their people and the rules to win. What it doesn’t do is find the smoking gun that would derail Russia or Qatar hosting 2018 or 2022.

At this stage it is probably time to stop wasting time and move on in that regard. If anyone has that smoking gun it is likely to be the US Justice Department via their own investigations into the corruption of FIFA executives, most of whom they have the bank information for which can trace the money flows.

Nothing from that US investigation has pointed towards World Cup impropriety…yet. Perhaps that may be the final act of the US investigation that we have to look forward to – the finale to what has been a pretty spectacular show so far with all the razzamatazz and rhetoric you would hope for from the US and their crime dramas.

But until then, and if it ever happens, what do we have in this publication of this report?

Ultimately it is a report that fills in some of the blanks behind the summary released in Novmeber 2014 (http://www.insideworldfootball.com/wp/wp-admin/post.php?post=15831&action=edit) – the important headlines are pretty much the same.

The Garcia report was originally intended to be a working document, something pointed out by FIFA former chief investigator Cornel Borbely and former adjudicatory chamber chair Hans-Joachim Eckert in a statement. FIFA issued their own somewhat disingenuous statement alongside the release of the report . Its release was right decision taking into account the geo-political reporting of the leaked statement, but it was spoiled by a ‘points-scoring’ statement from FIFA. The subsequent Borbely and Eckert statement is worth bearing in mind when reading the report.

“The decision to not publish the report so far was completely in line with the federation’s previous decisions and the applicable FIFA rules. Firstly, article 36 of the FIFA Code of Ethics obliges the members of the Ethics Committee to maintain confidentiality and prohibits the publication of information that could be used in the course of a procedure. Furthermore, the personal rights of the people mentioned in the report are to be protected. As a matter of fact, the report only is a working document. This position was confirmed in respective external legal opinions,” says the joint statement.

“We would like to underline that during the December 2014 Marrakesh meeting of the FIFA Executive Committee the decision was taken that solely Hans-Joachim Eckert as chairman of the adjudicatory chamber was to decide on the publication of the report as soon as all procedures, including potential appeals to the CAS, have been closed. However, this is still not the case today.

“To conclude, we would like to mention that, to this day, Mr Infantino has never contacted us and asked for a publication.”

 

Infantino claims he repeatedly asked Ethics to publish. So it seems from this last sentence that even when investigating the truth, the new FIFA fails to be able to tell the truth when eventually reporting what might actually be closer to the truth than anything we have seen before. And therein lies a metaphor for this report that was only ever intended to be a “working document”, and FIFA, old and new. Truth is a very malleable commodity in FIFA’s world – a currency of its own.

What the report does show is an executive committee of members not shy in coming forward for a handout, or in former CONCACAF president Jack Warner’s case multiple handouts – but the US authorities have shown us this already.

The report details in depth correspondence and attempt to influence votes by consultants, affiliated supporters and bid committee members. This is what can be expected in a highly political process that has highly skilled lobbyists working within it – and the rules were pushed and bent to their limits, and beyond them.

So if we accept that as part of any political process, what impropriety that could have impacted the votes does the report highlight? Plenty in reality but, as judged in this report and by Eckert, not enough to sway the outcome towards one winner. The highlights in this report are bullet-pointed below by bid committee.

Australia

  • OFC funding provided above what Australia provides for the region to secure Reynald Temarii’s vote. A$600,000 made through ‘football development’ grants for Goal Office project in Tahiti and OFC HQ in New Zealand
  • Australian government committed AS$4 million to a ‘Just Play’ (the marketing line for their bid) programme in the region
  • Temarii states he viewed the money as “important assistance” for the region in return for his vote
  • A$500,000 for the COCNACAF Centre of Excellence in Trinidad. Jack Warner “co-mingled the funds in the same account to which the FFA money was deposited”.
  • Proposed funding of A$5 million for projects in Africa – the Australian government funding (AusAid) was never forthcoming though
  • A$60,420 for travel and accommodation for the Trinidad and Tobago U20 team in Cyprus and a trip for TTFA execs and Warner to the UK
  • A $146,000 donation to Tygerburg Children’s Hospital in South Africa in December 2009
  • An $87,000 donation for LapDesks to African schools in June 2010.

Australia had just one voter for their bid for 2022 and were knocked out in the first round of voting.

Belgium/Holland

No issues were identified.

England

  • Multiple attempts to find employment for Richard Sebro, an associate of Warner, he eventually ended up with a job at Aston Villa.
  • Warner requested favors and benefits related to a Trinidad & Tobago football team he owned, Joe Public Football Club. Whether England provided any is unclear but the report says the England bid team were willing to
  • a paid training camp for the U20 Trinidad & Tobago team in England. Airfare was paid by the TTFA
  • Request to forgive Jamaica debt of $215,000 owed to the FA and another $18,500 to a private English firm. The request was clearly against bidding rules but bid leader Lord David Treismann said he would see what he could do
  • Support for the Longdenville sports club and facility, no financing took place
  • £35,608 paid for the financing of a dinner at a Caribbean Football Union congress
  • MoU with New Zealand detailing $494,000 NZD for renovations with a provision for a $1,044,000 – MoU was cancelled
  • Proposed fixture with commercial terms weighted toward Worawi Makudi’s Thailand the England-Thailand game was never played.

Conclusion: “In many cases England 2018 accommodated or at least attempted to satisfy, the improper requests made by these Executive Committee members. While the bidding process itself, and the attitude of entitlement and expectation demonstrated by certain Executive Committee members in the exchanges discussed in detail above, place the bid team in a difficult position that fact does not excuse all of the conduct.”

England won two votes in the bid for 2018 and were knocked out in the first round of voting.

Japan

Japan’s bid skirted the rules around ‘gifts’. The report give the benefit of the dout to the gift givers and the receivers. The gits given were:

  • A “yakusugi ball”—a ball made from a Japanese cedar—valued at ¥105,000 (approximately $1,200 based on conversion rates at the time) to FIFA President Joseph Blatter and Executive Committee members Abu Rida, Adamu, Anouma, Beckenbauer, Grondona, Hayatou, Leoz, Makudi, Platini, Salguero, Teixeira, and Villar Llona.
  • A pendant worth approximately ¥100,359 (approximately $1,000) to the wives of Grondona, Leoz, and Texiera.
  • A digital camera worth from ¥108,290 to ¥110,040 (approximately $1,200) to Blazer, Grondona, Hayatou, Leoz, Platini, Teixeira, Temarii, Thompson, and Warner.
  • A clutch bag made by a “Japanese traditional handcraft master” worth ¥189,000 (approximately $2,000) to “wi[v]es of FIFA EXCO members.”
  • A pendant worth from ¥54,810 to ¥62,370 (approximately $700) to the wives of Beckenbauer, D’Hooghe, Hayatou, Lefkaritis, Makudi, Thompson, and Platini.

 

Russia

The Russian bid committee was not able to remit all bidding phase communications, in particular the well-documented episode of the destroyed computers that belonged to the  Konoplyov Football Academy.

–  No evidence of collusion of the Russian bid with another bid committee or member association. Russia supplied few documents regarding this matter.

–  A statement by Kohzo Tashima, the CEO of the Japan Bid Committee, suggested collusion between Russia and the Japanese bid, but Tashima subsequently didn’t provide any evidence or further details to back up his words. Vitaly Mutko, Sorokin and Djordjaze denied an alliance existed between Russia and Australia. Frank Lowry later confirmed this. There was no mutual benefit from a possible alliance.

– Lord Triesman’s allegations of a possible collusion between Russia and the Spain/Portugal bid were not further pursued.

– Russia’s bid committee invited Exco members to Russia, covering their airfare and accommodation. Salguero, Adamu, Warner, Bin Hammam, Abo Rida and Dr Chung Mong Joon, some of whom were accompanied by their families, were invited and also provided with tickets for tours of the Kremlin, St. Petersburg and Peterhof, the Diamond Fund exhibition and for the ballet at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow. These costs were more than simply incidental, but didn’t break FIFA Rules of Conduct in force at the time.

–  Dr. D’Hooghe allegedly received a Picasso (which proved to be a newspaper fabrication) from Vyacheslav Koloskov to secure his vote for the Russia 2018 bid. In a letter D’Hooghe refuted the accusation of undue influence on him and stated that the painting was a gift between two old friends and was of no value.

– Franz Beckenbauer refuted media allegations that he was to be a Gazprom ambassador during the Russian bid. The German emphasized that he entered into a commercial agreement with the Russian Gas Society. It was therefore not reasonable to conclude that the Russian bid team made any attempt to unduly influence his vote.

– No evidence that Russia paid any money or offered development funds to CAF countries prior to the World Cup vote.

– ‘There was nothing to suggest that Russian government officials, including Prime Minister Putin, offered improper inducements on behalf of the bid effort.

– Only partial compliance with reporting requirements on contact made with FIFA ExCo Members. In particular, the obligation to report, in advance, any contact with FIFA ExCo members was complied with in only three cases.

Russia won the 2018 hosting rights in the second round of voting.

 

SpainPortugal

Garcia report focuses on possible collusion of the Spain/Portugal 2018 World Cup bid with Qatar’s 2022 World Cup bid.

 

  • FIFA was reluctant to impose restrictions on the Executive Committee. Vote-trading became “almost irresistible” once Europe was designated the host confederation for the 2018, World Cup “lining up four Executive Committee members representing Europe-based bidders with four such members from bidding nations outside Europe.”
  • Michel Zen-Ruffinen refused to cooperate with the Garcia report. He spoke of an alliance linking the votes of at least seven FIFA executive committee members: Ricardo Teixeira, Julio Grondona, Rafael Salguero, Hany Abo Rida, Worawi Makudi, Qatar’s Mohamed Bin Hammam and Spain’s Ángel María Villar Llona.
  • FIFA’s ethics committee had previously investigated possible collusion and demanded explanation per letter, but both the bid teams from Spain/Portugal and Qatar denied the existence of any sort of ‘unfair alliance.’
  • Villar confirmed that he passed a note to Bin Hammam during an October 2010 Executive Committee meeting stating something to the effect of “we are going to win.” Llona didn’t disclose if he indeed voted for the Spain/Portugal, citing “the principle of the secret vote is paramount.”
  • Three football officials reported that executive committee members told them directly that they were trading their own votes as part of that alliance. Sunil Gulati reported to the investigatory chamber that Villar was going to vote for Qatar, because Qatar was going to vote for Spain. Two officials from the England 2018 bid team CEO Andy Anson and Chief Operating Officer Simon Johnson  said Makudi had similar intentions.
  • Delegations of Qatar 2022 officials did visit Spain several times during the bidding process. Qatar 2022 CEO Hassan Al-Thawadi acknowledged meeting with Llona to discuss the bid.
  • The five-year sponsorship deal between QSI and FC Barcelona was announced shortly after the World Cup vote, but, despite the involvement in the negotiations of Qatar 2022 officials Hassan Al-Thawadi and Andreas Bleicher,  no link was uncovered between QSI’s investment and the World Cup vote.
  • The Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) and Real Madrid representatives, including chairmen Florentino Perez, met about potential Qatari investment related to the club, but the discussions neither influenced or were related to the bid process.
  • South American representatives on the FIFA executive committee – Grondona, Leoz, and Teixeira voted pursuant to the CONMEBOL consensus, according to Grondona. Media reports suggested that representatives from all ten CONMEBOL nations agreed to support the Spain/Portugal bid to host the World Cup in 2018. It remains unclear if there was a consensus at all about the vote for the 2022 World Cup in CONMEBOL.

Conclusion:  The Spain/Portugal bid rendered the investigation pretty much powerless as they didn’t preserve or supply the relevant documents. This was a reflection of a failure to cooperate, and doesn’t exclude the existence of incriminating evidence : “There are indications in the record of vote-trading agreements involving certain Executive Committee members, especially Messrs. Makudi and Villar Llona.”

Qatar

See previous story at http://www.insideworldfootball.com/2017/06/27/political-football-leaked-garcia-report-heaps-pressure-qatar/

USA

Nearly $3.7 million out of the total $8.25 million budget of the USA bid committee was financed by private donations.

  • No evidence of collusion between the USA bid committee and any other bid committee or member association involved in the bidding process for the respective World Cups, notwithstanding  Dr. Mong Joon Chung saying the USA might have attempted to influence member associations within the AFC by starting false rumours relating to China’s potential bid to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup. Then UEFA president Michel Platini did ask Sunil Gulati and the USA to withdraw from the 2018 World Cup bidding process.
  • Compliance with reporting requirements on contact made with FIFA ExCo Members.
  • Chuck Blazer was an ally of the USA bid, but deemed to not one of major strategic importance. No evidence that Blazer provided the USA bid committee with any confidential or other information that gave it an unfair advantage over the other biding candidates.
  • USA bid committee  covered the accommodation and incidental costs of Dr Michel D’Hooghe’s stay in New York when he was invited to attend the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative in September 2010. The costs amounted to a total of $2,343.11.
  • Particular support of US government and President Barack Obama, including invitations of Sepp Blatter, Jack Warner and Jérôme Valcke to White House, for the USA bid were not excessive.

Conclusion: Recommendation of no further investigatory steps and no opening of investigatory proceedings against any of the members of the USA bid committee, except for the payment of accommodation and incidental costs to Dr Michel D’Hooghe.

Contact the writers of this story at moc.l1634716975labto1634716975ofdlr1634716975owedi1634716975sni@n1634716975osloh1634716975cin.l1634716975uap1634716975 por moc.l1634716975labto1634716975ofdlr1634716975owedi1634716975sni@i1634716975tnuk.1634716975ardni1634716975mas1634716975