Whitewash? FIFA corruption report clears Qatar, criticises Australia

Qatar have been cleared of wrongdoing according to the disputed FIFA summary of the unpublished official report they commissioned into the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids.

But bidding nations critical of the process have been hung out to dry.

The 42-page summary of investigator Michael Garcia’s  unreleased 430-page report has been widely condemned.

Only hours after FIFA released its findings Garcia distanced himself from the process.

The former United States attorney, who undertook a two-year inquiry into corruption claims, said the summary contained “numerous materially incomplete and erroneous representations" of the full report.

FIFA has rejected all calls to release Garcia’s full report.

Instead the game's global governing body said the summary by the head of the adjudicatory chamber of FIFA’s Ethics Committee, Hans-Joachim Eckert, now brings the matter to a close.

Qatar's successful bid for the 2022 showpiece faced particular scrutiny due to several allegations of corruption.

However, it has been confirmed neither the Gulf state nor 2018 host Russia will face any sanctions.

All nine nations bidding to host the two World Cups were under review.

England's bid came in for a particular hammering.

The Football Association was judged to have attempted to win the support of former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner, who resigned from his role in 2011 amid bribery allegations, and  accused of damaging "the integrity of the ongoing bidding process".

Australia, who were up against Qatar, were also criticised for attempting to gain favour with Warner and pouring money into CONCACAF development programs.

The summary stated: "Certain devices employed by the bid team and its consultants were seemingly aimed at hiding ties with individuals close to the executive committee member concerned while taking advantage of their influence over the member to further the bid strategy.

And this: "There are indications that the Australian 2022 bid team attempted to direct funds the Australian government had set aside for existing development projects in Africa towards initiatives in countries with ties to FIFA executive committee members with the intention to advance its bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup,”

Football Federation Australia (FFA) has since released a brief statement noting the release of Eckert’s distillation.

FFA said it would seek advice from the FIFA Ethics Committee on the next steps in the process.

The statement went on to say: “FFA notes that the Australian bid team co-operated fully with the inquiry and provided transparency on the conduct of the bid.

“FFA will now fully review the statement and its findings before making any further comment.”

The summary by Eckert read: "The evaluation of the 2018/2022 FIFA World Cups bidding process is closed for the FIFA Ethics Committee.

"The chairman of the adjudicatory chamber of the FIFA ethics committee finds that the investigation into the said bidding process has been conducted in full compliance with the relevant provisions of the FIFA code of ethics."

FIFA's findings end any possibility that the bidding process could be re-opened.

Reports in the British press earlier this year alleged that Mohamed Bin Hammam, former president of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), paid up to $5million to football officials to drum up support for the Qatar bid.

The claims received a strong rebuttal from Qatar's 2022 bid committee, who stated that Bin Hammam had no role in the bidding process.

The FIFA summary cleared Qatar of any involvement with Bin Hammam, stating he was "distant" in the process.

However, the findings did state that there were "certain indications of potentially problematic conduct of specific individuals".

In regards to Russia's successful 2018 campaign, the summary found no evidence of wrongdoing, although it did mention that not all records had been provided for scrutiny.

The report stated: "The Russia 2018 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 owner has confirmed that the computers were destroyed in the meantime."

Following the summary’s release FIFA issued a statement welcoming "the fact that a degree of closure has been reached".

The statement added: "FIFA acknowledges the recommendations mentioned in the statement with regard to improving the bidding process for future FIFA World Cups, but also notes the comments of the chairman of the adjudicatory chamber regarding the bidding process for the 2018/2022 FIFA World Cups as 'well-thought, robust and professional'."