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Fifa ethics report ‘wrong’, investigator says

Michael Garcia, who conducted the inquiry into wrong-doing in the Russian and Qatari World Cup bids, says a report published on Thursday by Fifa is "materially incomplete and erroneous".

Fifa ethics report 'wrong', investigator says
Sepp Blatter announces Qatar's winning bid in 2010. Photo: DPA
The BBC reported that Garcia released his statement just four hours after the report had been released by Ethics Committee chief, German judge Hans-Joachim Eckert.
 
Eckert, had acquitted future hosts Russia and Qatar of all serious corruption charges.
 
Now Garcia, a former US federal prosecutor, says he will appeal to FIFA to look again at the allegations.
 
“Today’s decision by the Chairman of the Adjudicatory Chamber contains numerous materially incomplete and erroneous representations of the facts and conclusions detailed in the Investigatory Chamber’s report,” Garcia said.
 
The report, compiled by Eckert but based on Garcia's inquiries, said there was evidence of some corruption, but no bidding country would be sanctioned in the wake of the 18-month investigation, conducted at a cost of nearly €8 million according to The Independent.

The finding meant the games were to go ahead as planned and without re-votes for hosts of the 2018 and 2022 games.

Eckert's 42-page paper stated that any rules broken by the successful bidders were "of very limited scope".

Investigator Michael Garcia and fifa ethics exec Hans-Joachim Eckert. Photo: DPA

"FIFA looks forward to continuing the preparations for Russia 2018 and Qatar 2022, which are already well underway," said a FIFA statement released in response.  

In the 2010 vote to determine both hosts, Russia beat out competing bids from England, as well as joint bids from the Netherlands/Belgium and Spain/Portugal.  Qatar won over bids from the USA, South Korea, Japan and Australia.

The report also noted that the Russian bid committee "made only a limited amount of documents available for review, which was explained by the fact that the computers used at the time by the Russia Bid Committee had been leased and then returned to their owner after the Bidding Process." The computers in question have since been destroyed.

The Russian committee said that requests to Google for the emails went unanswered.

The ethics committee also noted in its report it has no subpoena power and is reliant on all parties to turn over documents of their own free will.

Luzhniki Arena in Moscow. Photo: DPA

In the Qatari investigation, the committee also found no evidence to support the allegations that the bid committee paid Fifa officials around €3.7 million. Furthermore, it also found a "distant relationship" between former Fifa executive committee member Mohamed Bin Hammam and the bid committee.

Hammam was banned from all football-related activity for life in 2011 and 2012 after attempting to buy votes in his effort to become Fifa president.  

The report also chastised the English Football Association over its failed 2018 bid, saying its attempts to woo the vote of the Trinidad and Tobago executive member damaged "the image of Fifa and the bidding process."

Both Russia and Qatar have faced criticisms for their human rights violations. 

Eckert had previously announced that the full report into the investigation would not be made public. 

SEE ALSO: German Fifa exec: 'Qatar won't host World Cup'

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RUSSIA

Germany arrests Russian scientist for spying for Moscow

German police arrested a Russian scientist working at an unidentified university, accusing him of spying for Moscow, prosecutors said on Monday, in a case that risks further inflaming bilateral tensions.

Germany arrests Russian scientist for spying for Moscow
Vladimir Putin. Photo: dpa/AP | Patrick Semansky

Federal prosecutors said in a statement that the suspect, identified only as Ilnur N., had been taken into custody on Friday on suspicion of “working for a Russian secret service since early October 2020 at the latest”.

Ilnur N. was employed until the time of his arrest as a research assistant for a natural sciences and technology department at the unnamed German university.

German investigators believe he met at least three times with a member of Russian intelligence between October 2020 and this month. On two occasions he allegedly “passed on information from the university’s domain”.

He is suspected of accepting cash in exchange for his services.

German authorities searched his home and workplace in the course of the arrest.

The suspect appeared before a judge on Saturday who remanded him in custody.

‘Completely unacceptable’

Neither the German nor the Russian government made any immediate comment on the case.

However Moscow is at loggerheads with a number of Western capitals after a Russian troop build-up on Ukraine’s borders and a series of espionage scandals that have resulted in diplomatic expulsions.

Italy this month said it had created a national cybersecurity agency following warnings by Prime Minister Mario Draghi that Europe needed to
protect itself from Russian “interference”. 

The move came after an Italian navy captain was caught red-handed by police while selling confidential military documents leaked from his computer to a Russian embassy official.

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The leaders of nine eastern European nations last month condemned what they termed Russian “aggressive acts” citing operations in Ukraine and “sabotage” allegedly targeted at the Czech Republic.

Several central and eastern European countries have expelled Russian diplomats in solidarity with Prague but Russia has branded accusations of its involvement as “absurd” and responded with tit-for-tat expulsions.

The latest espionage case also comes at a time of highly strained relations between Russia and Germany on a number of fronts including the ongoing detention of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, who received treatment in Berlin after a near-fatal poisoning.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government has moreover worked to maintain a sanctions regime over Moscow’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula, the scene of ongoing fighting between pro-Russia separatists and local forces.

And Germany has repeatedly accused Russia of cyberattacks on its soil.

The most high-profile incident blamed on Russian hackers to date was a cyberattack in 2015 that completely paralysed the computer network of the Bundestag lower house of parliament, forcing the entire institution offline for days while it was fixed.

German prosecutors in February filed espionage charges against a German man suspected of having passed the floor plans of parliament to Russian secret services in 2017.

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas last week said Germany was expecting to be the target of Russian disinformation in the run-up to its general election in September, calling it “completely unacceptable”.

Russia denies being behind such activities.

Despite international criticism, Berlin has forged ahead with plans to finish the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, set to double natural gas supplies from Russia to Germany.

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