Chairman of the adjudicatory chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee, Hans-Joachim Eckert recommended to the FIFA President that a criminal complaint be lodged with the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland in Berne. Here he discusses why.
You have recommended to the FIFA President that a criminal complaint be lodged with the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland regarding certain matters relating to the awarding of the hosting rights to the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. Why?
During my analysis of the report from the chairman and deputy chairman of the investigatory chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee, I came across indications that pointed to suspected unlawful activity in connection with Switzerland. In the circumstances, I saw it as my duty to bring this to the FIFA President’s attention and to recommend to him that the Swiss criminal prosecution authorities be informed.
I would like to point out that not once did my statement involve a so-called “whitewashing” of the award process with regard to the various allegations and assumptions made, contrary to what has been claimed in some quarters. My statement was based on the Garcia report – I can only work with the material contained in it, and in my view, there was insufficient clear evidence of illegal or irregular conduct that would call into question the integrity of the award process as a whole. However, in certain places, the report does indicate that further clarification is needed of certain circumstances. Much of this clarification work can be carried out by the FIFA Ethics Committee itself, while the remainder is the responsibility of the relevant national investigatory authorities.
So the investigation into the processes surrounding the awarding of the hosting rights to the 2018 and 2022 World Cups is not yet completed?
The investigatory chamber of the Ethics Committee has done a comprehensive and thorough job. I fully respect the work it has done, as I am aware of the factual and legal problems associated with the investigations. However, in my opinion, there is insufficient incriminating evidence to justify calling into question the entire award process. Nevertheless, there are indications of potential illegal or irregular conduct in certain areas, which must now be followed up both internally by FIFA and by the relevant national criminal prosecution authorities.
You examined the Garcia report for several weeks. Why have you only now recommended that a criminal complaint be lodged?
The report is several hundred pages long and there are extensive annexes. I had to build a full picture so that I could be sure that I would not draw any premature conclusions. I gave my recommendation to FIFA to lodge a criminal complaint more or less at the same time as the publication of my statement.
Does FIFA’s criminal complaint on your recommendation mean that your work in connection with the Garcia report has finished?
No. As I have already explained in my statement, the investigatory chamber of the Ethics Committee will commence proceedings against individuals based on its report. The final reports of these individual proceedings will be submitted to the adjudicatory chamber of the Ethics Committee, which will then decide how the adjudicatory chamber should proceed.