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FIFA Under Fire After Report on Qatar, Russia

FIFA Under Fire After Report on Qatar, RussiaFIFA Under Fire After Report on Qatar, Russia

A long-awaited day of judgment on World Cup hosts Russia and Qatar turned into another day of FIFA disarray.

Nearly four years after FIFA chose Russia and Qatar to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, the football body's ethics judge exonerated the two countries of any corruption in their winning bids and cleared them to stage the sport's showpiece tournament, abcnews reported. The ruling by German judge Joachim Eckert came despite evidence of some improper conduct by eight of the nine bids.

Eckert's report was denounced by critics as a whitewash and harshly contested by the American prosecutor who led the investigation. Michael Garcia, the former U.S. Attorney in Manhattan, said he will appeal Eckert's decision to close the case, saying it was based on "materially incomplete and erroneous" interpretation of his own findings — 430 pages of investigative work sealed by FIFA from public scrutiny.

  'Bit of a Joke'

A 42-page report released by FIFA and designed to bestow integrity on the next two World Cup hosts had its own ethics attacked. Eckert's strongest criticism was leveled not at Qatar or Russia but at England's failed 2018 bid — for aggressively wooing a key FIFA voter.

"I think it's a bit of a joke ... the whole process," said England's Football Association Chairman Greg Dyke.

CONCACAF President Jeffrey Webb of the Cayman Islands and U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati, both members of FIFA's ruling executive committee, called for Garcia's work to be released with appropriate redactions.

'Given the disagreement between the two chairmen of the Investigatory and Adjudicatory Chambers of the Ethics Committee and to ensure complete transparency, we believe the full report ... should be made public as soon as possible," the two said in a joint statement.

Eckert's report seemed to confirm that the 2022 World Cup would definitely be played in Qatar — though exactly when is still unclear as FIFA seeks an alternative to the desert heat in June and July. Qatar has also come under scrutiny for its treatment of foreign laborers.