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World Cup 'civil war' as Fifa chiefs feud over ethics fiasco

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The breakdown in the relationship between ethics committee chairmen Hans-Joachim Eckert (right) and Michael J Garcia was also laid bare when the German hinted the pair may no longer be on speaking terms. Photo: SEBASTIEN BOZON/AFP/GettyImages

The breakdown in the relationship between ethics committee chairmen Hans-Joachim Eckert (right) and Michael J Garcia was also laid bare when the German hinted the pair may no longer be on speaking terms. Photo: SEBASTIEN BOZON/AFP/GettyImages

The breakdown in the relationship between ethics committee chairmen Hans-Joachim Eckert (right) and Michael J Garcia was also laid bare when the German hinted the pair may no longer be on speaking terms. Photo: SEBASTIEN BOZON/AFP/GettyImages

The civil war at Fifa over its World Cup corruption probe intensified yesterday when its head judge defied mounting pressure to publish the full report of its chief investigator.

The breakdown in the relationship between ethics committee chairmen Hans-Joachim Eckert and Michael J Garcia was also laid bare when the German hinted the pair may no longer be on speaking terms.

Meanwhile in the US, American investigators said that they were continuing their own inquiry into corruption against the senior leaders of Fifa.

According to US law enforcement officials, the FBI, which is leading the probe in America, will continue working on its investigation.

Detectives told CNN that they are moving ahead with their inquiry, which could result in charges against senior Fifa members, the officials said.

Last night Fifa prosecutor Garcia insisted that he will go ahead with his plan to appeal Eckert's decision to close the investigation into how Russia and Qatar won World Cup hosting rights.

The former American prosecutor said Eckert's report released by Fifa "contains numerous materially incomplete and erroneous representations of the facts and conclusions detailed'' in Garcia's own report.

FBI agents based in New York said they will also continue their three-year-old investigation, which will likely benefit from the findings of Garcia. The FBI said it plans to seek access to Garcia's full report, which Fifa hasn't yet released.

The Fifa ethics committee announced on Thursday that it was closing its investigation into alleged corruption in the 2018 and 2022 bidding process that awarded the World Cup to Russia and Qatar, respectively.

No proof was found of bribes or voting pacts in a probe hampered by a lack of access to evidence and uncooperative witnesses.

The FBI declined to offer an official comment, the CNN report said.

The investigation includes the cooperation of a former top Fifa official who has provided documents and recordings of meetings with colleagues, law enforcement officials told CNN.

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And Eckert appeared to admonish Garcia for issuing a public statement savaging his summary of the American's 430-page report into the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments without contacting him first.

Garcia's decision to lodge a formal appeal over the conclusions reached by Eckert threw the latter's decision to clear Qatar and Russia as hosts for the next two World Cups back into doubt and sparked renewed calls for a redacted version of the original document to be published.

Eckert refused to bow to such calls, despite being understood to have been sent such a file by his estranged colleague.

"I don't think that's possible because I have to respect the rights of confidentiality for continental law," Eckert told the BBC, insisting much of his own summary was "word for word from the Garcia" report.

"Maybe it's another thing in the US, but in continental law I can't do it, and I can't do it in total even by the Fifa code of ethics. I will not do it." Eckert revealed he had not been able to contact Garcia, who heads its investigatory chamber, since the American issued his explosive statement.

"Usually, you would first speak to each other internally if you don't like something," Eckert said. He added of Garcia: "I have been trying to contact him." Eckert also admitted he had not sent Garcia a copy of his 42-page summary before it was made public. "It could be a misunderstanding after all," he added, admitting he was also caught cold by Garcia's response. "I'm surprised, not shocked. I'm a long time in the job here. I don't think anything shocks me." After reading Eckert's summary, Garcia issued a statement accusing it of containing "numerous materially incomplete and erroneous representations of the facts".

The document was particularly scathing of England's doomed 2018 World Cup bid.

Garcia is thought to be furious it omitted the most withering criticism from his own findings, that of the Fifa executive committee which took part in the 2010 ballot. That aspect of Garcia's report was said by sources to highlight the ExCo's "culture of entitlement," an "attitude that the rules don't apply" and its members' "failure to properly consider their obligations".

Closure Eckert's summary also examined Fifa president Sepp Blatter's role in the bidding process and found no direct wrongdoing on his part.

Fifa, which had earlier welcomed the "degree of closure" it assumed Eckert's summary had provided, was completely blindsided by Garcia's statement, which it said it had yet to be "officially notified" of.

The men appointed to lead Fifa's ethics crusade in the wake of the corruption allegations to have engulfed it have been at odds for some time.

Both nominally 'independent', Garcia believes its disciplinary process should be made more transparent, with Eckert is seemingly only interested in adhering to following letter of the law. (© Daily Telegraph, London)


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