FIFA released the full contents of the Garcia report that examined alleged corruption in 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding on Tuesday, one day after it was leaked to German newspaper Bild.
The 2014 report by independent ethics investigator Michael J. Garcia was once expected to be explosive and became a holy grail for FIFA critics who thought the votes that gave the World Cups to Russia and Qatar could be rerun.
Previously, FIFA had only published a 42-page summary of his findings, released by its then-ethics judge, Hans-Joachim Eckert. The move upset Garcia, who said the reduced document misrepresented his work.
While the mystery of what details are contained in the full 430-page dossier has been revealed, it does not contain any additional proof of major acts of corruption. However, Garcia said some bidders tested rules of conduct to the limit.
“A number of executive committee members sought to obtain personal favours or benefits that would enhance their stature within their home countries or confederations,” Garcia wrote.
FIFA critics believed bid leaders in Russia and Qatar must have engaged in wrongdoing to earn the votes of a FIFA executive committee lineup in 2010 that has since been widely discredited.
Most of those who took part in the 2010 vote have since been banned for unethical conduct, indicted on corruption charges by the U.S. Department of Justice, or remain under scrutiny by Swiss federal prosecutors who have 25 ongoing investigations involving more than 170 bank transactions suspected as money laundering.
Bild was planning to publish extracts from the 430-page dossier over the next few days, but football’s world governing body published its entire findings on Tuesday, saying “for the sake of transparency, FIFA welcomes the news that this report has now been finally published.”
Journalist Peter Rossberg, who obtained the leaked copy, said it would “be naive to believe that people like Garcia or [then deputy chairman of the investigatory chamber of FIFA ethics committee Cornel] Borbely could have been able to find definite proof.”
However, he added that “especially with Qatar there are many strong indicators which basically don’t allow for another conclusion. It’s a general picture about greed, corruption and cover-ups.”
The Garcia report includes details of a two million Swiss franc payment into the account of the 10-year-old daughter of a FIFA official.
That allegation surfaced in Brazilian and British media more than three years ago, naming the official as Ricardo Teixeira. The Brazilian left FIFA in 2012 to avoid sanctions for taking kickbacks.
The report also details the role that the Qatari Aspire Academy played in manipulating FIFA officials with voting rights. Three FIFA executive committee members travelled to Brazil in a private Qatari FA plane in late 2010, just days prior to the vote that saw Qatar awarded the 2022 World Cup.
Garcia’s report states that Qatar’s Aspire sports academy was used to “curry favor with executive committee members.” This, Garcia added, “created the appearance of impropriety. Those actions served to undermine the integrity of the bidding process.”
Eckert’s summary stated that Qatar “pulled Aspire into the orbit of the bid in significant ways.” Yet he concluded the “potentially problematic facts and circumstances” about Qatar’s bid did not “compromise the integrity” of the overall bid process.
Garcia’s team found “no evidence” that Russia’s bid team or Vladimir Putin, then prime minister, unduly influenced FIFA voters. Putin hosted six of the 22 voting members of the FIFA executive committee in the weeks before the December 2010 vote.
However, Russia “made only a limited amount of documents” available to Garcia’s team, Eckert wrote in 2014. Garcia had been banned in 2013 from entering Russia, the bid team’s leased computers were later destroyed, and staffers’ email accounts were not retrieved from Google.
The report found England’s 2018 World Cup bid team “accommodated” “improper requests” from former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner, while the United States’ effort to host the 2022 World Cup generally followed FIFA’s bidding rules, a separate part of the report written by Borbely found.
Garcia said he lost confidence in the independence of FIFA’s ethics committee after the body failed to release the whole report. He resigned, though not before FIFA handed his work to Switzerland’s attorney general. The Swiss investigation is ongoing and Garcia is now an appeals court judge in the state of New York.
Stephan Uersfeld is the Germany correspondent for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @uersfeld.