Eckert sets November target for corruption verdict

The FIFA ethics judge presiding over the World Cup bidding corruption case is hoping to deliver a verdict by November.

Judge Joachim Eckert - chairman of the adjudicatory chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee - is in the process of studying reports published by FIFA investigator Michael Garcia into the bidding campaigns for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, which are scheduled to be held in Russia and Qatar respectively.

The bidding process for the tournaments was dogged by allegations of bribery and voting collusion, with Garcia - appointed as the head of FIFA's Ethics Committee in July 2012 - spending almost a year quizzing officials involved in the campaigns.

Eckert now has the task of making a judgement from Garcia's findings and, speaking at an ethics in sport conference at FIFA headquarters in Switzerland, the German set a target of "end of October, beginning of November", although he stressed he will not rush his decision.

"I understand it is urgent," Eckert said.

"Even if I'm used to reading fast, with due respect I will take some time."

Eckert added that only he Garcia and their deputies - Australian judge Alan Sullivan and Swiss prosecutor Cornel Borbely - have looked at the reports and dismissed the notion that parties under investigation had pressed him into disclosing details.

"[FIFA and its administration] have not got this report and that is the way it is meant to be," Eckert continued.
"You can also rest assured that we as professionals know how to safeguard the report in order not to give anyone access to it.

"No one has called me. If that was the case, Michael Garcia would have to deal with new cases.

"You cannot expect for anything to be disclosed from this report to the public. There is an obligation for secrecy and we will comply with this."

FIFA has come in for repeated criticism as a result of the continued corruption allegations against the governing body.

However, despite the investigation into the ballots for the next two World Cups, president Sepp Blatter believes the organisation can be a leader in ethical standards in sport.

Blatter posted on his Twitter account on Friday: "FIFA's reform process gives us a framework for the future that I believe WILL put FIFA at the forefront of governance standards in sport.

"Everyone in the global football community has a responsibility to act ethically. Football fans rightly demand this. FIFA has taken the lead."