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Judge Eckert warns FIFA following Garcia investigation

MUNICH: 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, said he doubted “if soccer and ethics can still fit together”.

The Munich-based head of the Adjudicatory Chamber of the FIFA Ethics Commission also had a warning for delegates attending FIFA’s Ethics convention in Zurich on Friday at which he will make a speech on the subject.

“Many won’t like what I am going to tell them,” he told Reuters on Tuesday.

FIFA’s investigation into alleged corruption surrounding the votes won by Russia and Qatar in December 2010 was delivered by New York attorney Michael Garcia at the beginning of this month.

“I am expecting a decision in a few months. I see the beginning of November when I am going to get ready,” Eckert said.

“I am currently reading the 360 pages,” he said, adding that he has also received some 200,000 other pages of documents relating to the case.

One matter Eckert did not address was whether he would make the report public, although he has been urged to do so by a number of FIFA executive committee members including Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein of Jordan and Moya Dodd of Australia.

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 organizers 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.

Widespread allegations of wrongdoing have been made regarding the decisions taken by the FIFA executive committee nearly four years ago and, although the 2018 bid won by Russia was also examined, most of the focus was reportedly on the 2022 bid.

Russia saw off challenges from England, Belgium/Netherlands and Spain/Portugal while Qatar finished ahead of Australia, Japan, South Korea and the United States to win the right to stage the 2022 finals.

Qatar’s communications chief Nasser Al Khater told delegates at the Soccerex Global Convention last week: “We’ve always been confident of our position in the way we carried ourselves during the bidding stage.

“Also, we’re 500-people strong working tirelessly day in and day out and I think that’s an answer to the question.”-Reuters

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