GENEVA (AP) — An investigation into alleged World Cup bid corruption should be published in full, according to FIFA vice president Prince Ali bin Al-Hussein of Jordan.
Prince Ali’s plea to lift FIFA secrecy rules shrouding the case — which could punish some of his executive committee colleagues for their conduct in the 2018 and 2022 bid contests won by Russia and Qatar — follows a call by lead investigator Michael Garcia for more openness.
“In the interest of full transparency, I believe it is important that the much anticipated report on the ethics investigation that is crucial to ensuring good governance at FIFA is fully disclosed and open to the public,” the prince said Tuesday in a statement.
Garcia, the American independent prosecutor appointed by FIFA, also wants to ease confidentiality rules which prohibit publishing his reports and evidence files.
He delivered first drafts this month to FIFA ethics judge Joachim Eckert, who expects to give verdicts early next year. Eckert said he would only judge individuals, and leave the hosting status of Russia and Qatar to FIFA.
However, Eckert’s written rulings would likely leave much of Garcia’s work unexplained and under seal.
The FIFA code of ethics states that “only the final decisions already notified to the addressees may be made public.”
Challenging that strict limit, Prince Ali suggested only full disclosure would help repair FIFA’s damaged image.
“This will only help the football community move ahead in reforming our institutions in the best interest of the sport,” he said.
“The entire football family as well as its sponsors and those who follow the game
worldwide have a full right to know the contents of the report in the spirit of complete openness.”
Only four people — Garcia, Eckert and their FIFA ethics committee deputies — have seen the 430-page report documents, Garcia said last Friday.
At a FIFA-hosted ethics conference, Garcia urged a review of confidentiality in the code which was written before he was appointed in 2012.
“I think that is a disservice in many ways because people are skeptical and want
information,” said Garcia, a former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. He compared FIFA’s reputation for transparency unfavorably with his former office in Manhattan which he said was trusted by the public.
“But I doubt we would have enjoyed that confidence if we couldn’t announce who had been charged with what,” Garcia said.
Garcia sought to quiz the 12 current FIFA board members, including President Sepp Blatter, who were involved in the World Cup ballots in December 2010 and 10 other voters who have since left. Some resisted cooperating.
Prince Ali was elected by Asian football leaders in 2011 to join the FIFA board, and took his seat as a reformer when the Swiss-based body’s
reputation was historically low after a series of bribery and vote-buying scandals.
His fellow vice presidents Jeffrey Webb of Cayman Islands and Jim Boyce of Northern Ireland — who also joined FIFA’s 27-member ruling panel after the scandals — have also said they want Garcia’s work to be published.