Mr Garcia strongly disputes Mr Eckert’s summary. On Monday, two whistleblowers whose identities were revealed by Mr Eckert also claimed that he had misrepresented the evidence. Mr Garcia should leave Fifa in no doubt that if they will not publish his report, he will. But that will be only the first of many steps needed to rebuild a governing body for global football worthy of universal confidence.
It is easier to say what should be done than it is to be confident that it will happen. Most effective would be criminal prosecutions. In the wake of the Garcia report, the FBI is reported to be accelerating its probe, started in 2011, of the conduct of Fifa officials. In the UK, the Tory MP Damian Collins has called for the Serious Fraud Office to pursue a parallel investigation. Then, Sepp Blatter, the Fifa president who first won a contested election amid allegations of fraud in 1998, must step down rather than stand for another four-year term next year.
That might be achieved if, as the former England FA chairman David Bernstein has suggested, Uefa backed a boycott of Russia’s World Cup in 2018 – or even, as the German league president Dr Reinhard Rauball suggested yesterday on Monday, threatened to walk away from Fifa entirely. Best of all, to launch the new era, would be a rerun of the ludicrous vote that resulted in Qatar being awarded the 2022 competition. Of all the damage done by Fifa corruption, the leverage presented to Qatar by its status as a World Cup host is the worst. Later today it will probably be awarded the World Athletics Championships for 2019, one more sports-hosting trophy to add to the dozens already in its portfolio as it strives to cultivate an image of modernity that disguises a cruelly exploited workforce, a gross disregard for human rights and colossal environmental degradation.
On the face of it, European football should be in a strong position to impose its will. But if a World Cup without Spain or Germany would be a meaningless affair, there is no unity of purpose. Spain and Portugal were exonerated in the Eckert summary and might not wish to get involved. Uefa’s president, Michel Platini – once spoken of as a challenger to Blatter – actually voted for Qatar. A Uefa boycott would risk looking like a self-interested rebuff to the rest of the world. And, whatever noises it is making now, in practice the English FA might be a reluctant player too. It has a large debt on the new Wembley stadium that needs servicing through the income from hosting World Cup qualifiers. Worse, it is on shaky ground, after its conduct was strongly, if not justly, criticised by Mr Eckert. Yet Fifa has turned the game it is supposed to foster into a global farce. It has resisted reform for 20 years. Each attempt at challenge leaves victims, people who have done the right thing and suffered for it. And that weakens the resolve to try again. This time must be different.]]>