Bundesliga President: UEFA may quit FIFA over Qatar cover up

Bundesliga President Reinhard RauballPhoto: Bundesliga

Bundesliga President Reinhard Rauball: UEFA could quit FIFA
Photo: Bundesliga

FIFA may not be as unaccountable and untouchable as its sternest critics fear.

This week the world looked on in astonishment as the final report of ethics committee judge, Hans-Joachim Eckert, exonerated the bidding process that led to the 2018 World Cup being awarded to Russia and the 2022 tournament to Qatar.

Judge Eckert based his conclusion on a 430 page report produced by investigator Michael Garcia who immediately made very public his belief that his investigations proved otherwise.

Garcia, a US attorney, spent 18 months probing the race for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. He quickly disowned Judge Eckert’s summary of his report, a summary which effectively cleared Russia and Qatar of wrongdoing in the bidding process.

FIFA have refused to publish Garcia’s full report. So far the world seemed pretty powerless.

English MP Damian Collins had been making rumblings in the UK House of Commons but there has always been a question of jurisdiction. The UK Parliament has no jurisdiction or power over FIFA.

But now a very serious threat has come from UEFA, the governing body of football in Europe. Dr Reinhard Rauball is the president of the Bundesliga, the German Football League. Yesterday Rauball, who will be 68 on Christmas Day, warned that UEFA’s 54 member nations could quit FIFA if Michael Garcia’s report into World Cup bidding is not published in full.

Talking to Kicker Magazine at their office in Nuremberg hours before Germany faced Gibraltar, he talked of the news that Garcia had disowned Eckert’s summary of his own report.

“The result was a breakdown in communication, and it has shaken the foundations of FIFA in a way I’ve never experienced before. As a solution, two things must happen.

Not only must the decision of the ethics committee be published, but Mr Garcia’s bill of indictment too, so it becomes clear what the charges were and how they were judged.”

Rauball took over as President of the League Association and first Vice President of the German Football Association (DFB) on 6 August 2007. He became the youngest club president in Bundesliga history when he was first elected to the post of Dortmund president in 1979 at the age of 32. He also has legla experience.

When Kicker asked about possible consequences if the report were still kept private, he said:

“One option, which would have to be seriously considered, is certainly whether UEFA should leave FIFA.”

He insisted that FIFA lost credibility without full publication:

“Additionally, the areas that were not evaluated [in the report]and whether that was justified [should be published]. It must be made public. That is the only way FIFA can deal with the complete loss of credibility.”

UEFA has called for FIFA President Sepp Blatter to step down at the end of his current four-year term, an unusual step given that Blatter is a European.

Meanwhile back in the FIFA bubble, Garcia is not taking the twisting of his words lieing down. FIFA confirmed on Friday that Garcia had made officially declared his intention to take Eckert’s faux summary of his investigation to its appeals committee.

One way or another, Rauball has upped the stakes considerably. Whether UEFA has the guts to go it alone and withstand the likely legal challenges remains to be seen.

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