FIFA Head Investigator Garcia May Probe World Cups, Sepp Blatter

The new investigators at soccer ruling body FIFA said they may start probes into President Sepp Blatter and the World Cups awarded to Russia and Qatar.

“There are no limitations at all on what we will be looking at, it will be determined solely by what we perceive as evidence or suggestions or reasons to look further and that will be our guiding principle,” Michael J. Garcia, head investigator for FIFA’s ethics committee, said today at a press conference in Zurich. An investigation can be started into anything or anyone, “whether that is a particular World Cup or a particular person,” he added.

Blatter’s ruling board agreed to create a two-chamber ethics court to prosecute cases more effectively after a panel of anti-corruption experts advising FIFA said previous cases were “insufficiently investigated.”

Former U.S. attorney Garcia was named by FIFA on July 17 as lead investigator of the restructured committee to investigate allegations of corruption in the sport, while German judge Hans-Joachim Eckert was chosen to lead the adjudicatory branch.

“The scope of any investigation depends on facts and circumstances,” said Garcia. “There is no bright line in terms of past and future. If there is conduct in the past that warrants an investigations, I will do that.”

Garcia has started a preliminary investigation after asking Eckert to provisionally suspend former Asian soccer chief Mohamed Bin Hammam and will also examine bribery allegations linked to collapsed marketing agency ISL. He declined to say if there would be further probes.

“We did not accept any exercise of influence,” said Eckert today. “We will do our jobs, he as investigator and me as judge.”

Eckert said he was confident FIFA would provide the money required for investigations.

“FIFA cannot afford to not give enough money,” he said.

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