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FIFA says investigator into World Cup bribery cannot appeal

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Even if FIFA did make the right decision, this only makes them look worse.

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FIFA has decided that the investigator into possible corruption in 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding cannot appeal the Ethics committee's summary, which he said contained "numerous materially incomplete and erroneous representations of the facts and conclusions."

FIFA hired American attorney Michael Garcia to conduct an investigation in the bidding and he submitted his report to the Ethics Committee, led by German judge Hans-Joachim Eckert. That chamber would then decide on any punishment, but before they do so, Eckert released a 42-page summary of the report. The problem is that Garcia said the summary was flawed.

But when Garcia appealed to FIFA, he couldn't even get his appeal denied. He was told that there was no grounds for an appeal and it wouldn't be heard by FIFA's Appeal Committee, as explained in a statement from the governing body.

The FIFA Appeal Committee, chaired by Larry Mussenden, has concluded that the appeal lodged by the chairman of the investigatory chamber, Michael J. Garcia, against the statement of the chairman of the adjudicatory chamber of the independent Ethics Committee, Hans-Joachim Eckert, is not admissible.

The said statement about the report on the inquiry into the 2018/2022 FIFA World Cup bidding process does not constitute a decision (article 30, art. 73 as well as art. 78-80 of the FIFA Code of Ethics), and as such is neither legally binding nor appealable.

Further, the FIFA appeal committee reiterated that the FIFA Code of Ethics is designed to sanction individuals in cases in which the code has been violated. The said statement is not addressed to one or several specific individual(s) and as such does not contain any sanctions in accordance with art. 30 of the FCE.

FIFA's stance makes some sense. The summary, while made public, is not any sort of sanction or any kind of final decision. There is nothing for Garcia to appeal.

But what Garcia has a problem with, an understandably so, is that his report is being misconstrued by the summary and if this is the way the Ethics Committee views his report then they have incorrect information to make an informed decision. That basically makes his report pointless.

Not only did Garcia call into question the accuracy of the summary, but two whistleblowers were identified in the summary despite being told by Garcia that their identities would be kept private. That casts more doubt upon the Ethics Committee, Eckert, the summary and the competency of FIFA.

FIFA is under fire and few people, if anyone trusts them. This goes beyond the 2018 and 2022 World Cups and to their basic ability to govern the world's most popular sport. Even if their reasoning in not hearing Garcia's appeal makes sense, anything that stands in the way of opposition having their case heard doesn't look good.