In a move which a just-released FIFA statement calls surprising, the Chairman of the Investigations Chamber of the Ethics Committee, American Michael Garcia, has announced his resignation.
In a lengthy statement posted by Kirkland and Ellis, his Chicago-based law firm, Garcia spells out some fairly shocking details.
Maybe the most outrageous of these is the revelation that as a result of his public September statement that he felt his entire report should be made public,the Executive Committee brought him up on charges before the FIFA Disciplinary Committee for violation of the Code of Ethics.
Yes, you read that correctly.
Garcia goes on to explain that after Adjudicatory Chamber Chairman Eckart issued his 42 page ruling that, aside from England and a Chilean official - who is possibly the only innocent man in all of FIFA (more on him later) - everybody was in the clear, his brief to the Appeals Committee "explained why, when viewed in the context of the Report it purported to summarize, no principled approach could justify the Eckert Decision’s edits, omissions, and additions."
As you may have read yesterday, his complaint was rejected "on procedural grounds". Garcia says he was told that “it is not necessary for the FIFA Appeals Committee to enter into considerations on the substance of the appeal.”
Garcia says that the Appeals Committee ruled that the Eckart ruling was merely "a personal opinion" which had "no legally binding effect whatever" and thus, there was no need for them to review or rule on it.
This despite the fact that, on the basis of Eckart's "personal opinion that has no binding effect" - which FIFA consistently referred to as his "findings" and his final statement "a ruling" - the organization declared the entire matter of 2018 and 2022 bidding "concluded".
No independent governance committee, investigator, or arbitration panel can change the culture of an organization. And while the November 13, 2014, Eckert Decision made me lose confidence in the independence of the Adjudicatory Chamber, it is the lack of leadership on these issues within FIFA that leads me to conclude that my role in this process is at an end.
Accordingly, effective today, December 17, 2014, I am resigning as independent Chairman of the Investigatory Chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee.
In response, FIFA issued a very brief statement:
FIFA president Joseph S Blatter [said]: “I am surprised by Mr Garcia’s decision. The work of the Ethics Committee will nonetheless continue and will be a central part of the discussions at the exco meeting in the next two days.”
Pending the election of a new chairman of the Ethics Committee by the FIFA Congress, the FIFA Executive Committee will appoint an acting chairman to serve as a replacement for Mr Garcia.
FIFA has no further comment
German ExCo member Theo Zwanziger has said he intends to demand an Executive committee vote on Thursday regarding the release of the full investigatory report.
Garcia's resignation will serve to increase the pressure on Blatter- who unbelievably swears he's never seen it - to allow it to be released. A growing number of ExCo members - including USSF President Sunil Gulati - are calling for full transparency on this issue and Sepp may find the pressure to be irresistable.