One of the questions I’ve been asked the most in the 10 days since judge Hans-Joachim Eckert’s summary was published
Michael Garcia’s report into the conduct of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids, is the extent to which I’m upset with the comments about me as the “Australian whistleblower.”
The answer is: not that much — and there are two reasons.
First, the report is an investigation into FIFA of the world governing body’s decisions and processes, conducted by Garcia who is paid by FIFA. The conclusions reached are that there’s really nothing to worry about when it comes to FIFA. Surprise. Do you see the pattern here?
Second, while it wasn’t nice to read what was written about me and it wasn’t what I expected, it is also untrue.
I didn’t expect to read about any of the 75 individuals with whom Garcia met, let alone to see Phaedra Al-Majid and me singled out in such negative terms.
Not only were the two of us referred to as “whistle-blowers” in the pejorative, but I was referred to as “unreliable” and Phaedra — who worked on the successful Qatar bid — was referred to as both “not credible” and “unreliable.”
It was an extraordinary and unprofessional attack by one or both of the two men who preside over FIFA’s Ethics Committee.
While Eckert or Garcia must have their reasons for so openly flouting standards of whistle-blower conventions, the important point is they also accepted the issues that I raised with them.
The issues that are subsequently presented in the summary report related to Australia — and which Eckert refers to as “potentially problematic conduct” — are amongst the matters I discussed with Garcia.
For me, this is the key point as the real issue is FIFA.
In any case, as Garcia himself has claimed, it is also easy to find errors in the summary report.
For example, in the section related to the former FIFA Executive Committee member, Mohamed Bin Hammam, it is noted that Oceania Football Confederation’s (OFC) intention to support Australia’s bid “was publicly reported as early as October 17, 2010.”
Wrong. It was announced by the President of Australia’s football association at a media conference, alongside President Sepp Blatter, in Brisbane on June 1, 2008. This is a matter of public record.
It is curious that either Garcia or Eckert got this date wrong by 28 months because it goes to the heart of issues raised earlier in the summary report, and it is also relevant to what appears to be an illogical conclusion regarding the impact of Reynald Temarii’s eventual absence from taking part in the final vote.
But while the focus of the past four years has been the decisions of the Executive Committee regarding 2018/2022, FIFA has been the subject of corruption allegations for decades.
Concerned about his legacy after the 2018/2022 decisions, Blatter embarked upon successive so-called governance reforms in 2011 that left most people shaking their heads in disbelief.
First, he announced the establishment of a “Council of Wisdom” comprising Henry Kissinger, Placido Domingo and Johan Cruyff.