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FIFA Dismisses U.S. Lawyer's Appeal On Handling Of World Cup Report

FIFA, soccer's governing body, said an appeal by an American lawyer who spent two years investigating allegations of corruption in the bidding process for the World Cup is inadmissible.

Michael Garcia's appeal was made last month after German judge Hans-Jochaim Eckert in a report cleared Qatar and Russia of corruption in their successful bids to host the soccer World Cup. Eckert's report was based, in part, on the American lawyer's work, and the German judge released a 42-page version of Garcia's report. But Garcia said Eckert's report contained "numerous materially incomplete and erroneous representations," and he called upon the German judge to release his full 430-page work, which FIFA has sealed.

FIFA, in its statement today, said Eckert's summary was "neither legally binding nor appealable." Further, soccer's governing body also dismissed complaints by two whistleblowers who said Eckert's work had breached their confidentiality. One of those whistleblowers, Phaedra Almajid, a former Qatari bid worker, has previously said her treatment by FIFA would deter other whistleblowers from coming forward. The other whistleblower is Australian Bonita Mersiades.

"[N]o names were mentioned in the statement and any information provided was of a general nature," FIFA said today.

Eckert's repot in November was widely criticized. Both Russia's winning bid for 2018 and Qatar's for 2022 came against more favored rivals. Days after the report, FIFA said it lodged a criminal complaint against individuals in connection with those World Cups. FIFA also said it will further review the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

FIFA's executive committee meets in Morocco on Dec. 18 for a two-day session in which it will discuss Garcia's full 430-page report. The BBC reports FIFA's members will vote on a measure that would lead to the publication of an edited version of the report.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Krishnadev Calamur is NPR's deputy Washington editor. In this role, he helps oversee planning of the Washington desk's news coverage. He also edits NPR's Supreme Court coverage. Previously, Calamur was an editor and staff writer at The Atlantic. This is his second stint at NPR, having previously worked on NPR's website from 2008-15. Calamur received an M.A. in journalism from the University of Missouri.
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