Both Russia and Qatar have been cleared of any wrong doing in terms of their bid for the 2018 and 2022 world cups respectively, according to a report released by the FIFA ethics judge Hans-Joachim Eckert.
The report said that there were minor infractions that had indeed occurred during the bidding process, but they were not big enough to justify cancelling the award of the World Cup.
“The effects of these occurrences on the bidding process as a whole were far from reaching any threshold that would require returning to the bidding process, let alone reopening it,” Eckert’s statement said.
“The assessment of the 2018/2022 FIFA World Cups bidding process is therefore closed for the FIFA Ethics Committee.”
While Eckert did not find any fault with the Qatar bidding team itself, while also noting that it had only a distant relationship with disgraced Asian football confederation head Mohamed bin Hammam, Eckert was critical of the English FA for the way they were trying to curry favour with a close relationship to Jack Warner, “an apparent violation of bidding rules”.
Similar questions were raised about the people who were in some way connected with the bids made by Australia and South Korea.
With regard to the Russia bid, the report said that it found no evidence of any wrong doing, although it did note that not all records were made available for the investigation.
However, in what looks like a blow to FIFA, its own investigator Michael Garcia, who was appointed to lead the investigation was not happy with the result of the findings in the report and claimed that some of the conclusions were misinterpreted. “Today’s decision by the chairman of the adjudicatory chamber contains numerous materially incomplete and erroneous representations of the facts and conclusions detailed in the investigatory chamber’s report.” He plans to take it up with another committee, The FIFA Appeals committee.
The report also noted that Michael Garcia also intended to open investigations on some of the personnel who were not named in the report.
This means preparations can go ahead without any glitches, especially in the case of Qatar, for whom it was a very real possibility that the right to host the tournament may be taken away from them. And despite Garcia going to the appeals committee, the chances are that nothing will come off it.