Five more executive committee members are being scrutinized by FIFA ethics probe

Looks like five more members of FIFA’s Executive Committee are drawing scrutiny as a result of the Garcia Report; you know, that big, secret document U.S attorney Michael Garcia produced after investigating the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bid processes. Though many thought FIFA would bury the report’s findings, soccer’s governing body may be willing to act after all. A few sacrificial lambs may be offered up to maintain a type of venal status quo.

According to today’s reports, German legend Franz Beckenbauer and Chilean soccer president Harold Mayne-Nicholls are among the new quintet of suspects, whose levels of scrutiny range from mention in the Garcia Report to FIFA opening a formal case against them. Those executives, all connected to the Dec. 2010 vote, don’t even include then-members Chuck Blazer (now the Henry Hill of soccer), Mohamed Bin Hammam (banned for life, life, life) or Jack Warner (whose preferred move of payment was brown paper bag).

The committee only has 24 members. Even if the remainder of the body was squeaky clean (and the odds of the are?), this “corruption block” could still be large enough to swing any contentious vote.

As an illustration, let’s consider a hypothetical: say, a vote where five countries would otherwise draw relatively equal support. If you, Mr. I Want To Rig A Vote, get your block of six or seven “open-minded” members to swing toward one of those nations, you only need to pull in a couple of other “yeas” in your favor as countries drop out of the running.

Again, just as a random example:

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That’s not to say these five are all guilty and on the same side of 2010’s votes. Given the nature of some of the ethics violations we’ve heard about, these investigations could be about worst case scenarios (buying votes) or innocuous transgressions (absent-mindedly accepting small gifts). Still, the sure number of people being investigated has become troublesome.

But back to today’s news: The Next Five. They run from the über soccer famous (Beckenbauer) to the previously little-known (Thailand’s Worawi Makudi). Some quick facts on each:

Franz Beckenbauer, Germany

  • Legendary sweeper for West Germany’s national team from 1965 to 1977.
  • Was temporarily banned from soccer-related activities earlier this year after failing to cooperate with Garcia’s investigation.
  • The nature of his suspected corruption is unclear because FIFA won’t release the Garcia report.

Harold Mayne-Nicholls, Chile

  • Headed the inspection team that reported on the 2018 and 2022 host nation bids.
  • Is considering opposing Sepp Blatter in the next FIFA presidential elections.
  • The nature of his suspected corruption is unclear. Turns out FIFA won’t release the Garcia report.

Ángel María Villar, Spain

  • Long-time Athletic midfielder and current president of the Spanish Football Federation.
  • Reportedly led a group of executive committee members who attempted to block Garcia’s attempts to question them.
  • The nature of his suspected corruption is unclear. FIFA might never release the Garcia report.

Michel D’Hooghe, Belgium

  • Has been a member of the Executive Committee for 26 years.
  • Admitted to accepting a painting from a Russian official as part of the 2018 bid’s lobbying efforts.
  • The nature of his suspected corruption is still somewhat unclear, mostly because FIFA won’t release the Garcia report.

Worawi Makudi, Thailand

  • Has been scrutinized for a.) a land deal involving Thailand’s FA headquarters, b.) Qatari investment in a network of soccer academies in Thailand, and c.) an oil deal between Qatar in Thailand before the Dec. 2010 vote.
  • Tried to sue former English FA chairman David Triesman after being accused of asking for the television rights to an England-Thailand friendly in exchange for his vote in the 2018 World Cup bid process.
  • Despite all this, the extent of his suspected corruption is still unknown. FIFA won’t release the Garcia report.

But let’s be clear about the Garcia Report: There are likely serious confidentiality issues that keep it from being released. Do those issues affect all 430 pages? Perhaps, but more likely than not, FIFA’s leveraging that excuse to keep Garcia’s findings private. Thankfully, Garcia’s called bullshit, which means new discussions between him and FIFA ethics judge Hans-Joachim Eckert could result in some limited disclosure.

Until then, we’re left with reports like today’s, ones that leave names, dots, lines drawn between them, and a growing list of names that confirm what many always suspected about that 2010 vote.

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