Michael Garcia has resigned as FIFA prosecutor, the AP reports. Thus ends a two-year process that began with the former U.S. Attorney’s investigation, climaxed with his report, and ends with the frustration of it being kept behind closed doors.
The process has also frustrated soccer fans who’d maintained hope. Perhaps the investigation would change FIFA. Maybe the governing body’s cup would boileth over. But when an executive summary failed to find fault with either Russia or Qatar, soccer fans waved off their pitchforks in favor of a collective shrug. Hope is different than belief. We’d seen this before.
Garcia, apparently, had suspended his incredulity. When he took on the task of investigating the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bid processes, he must have done so with the hopes of changing the culture. Perhaps that goal was secondary to conducting a principled investigation, but improving FIFA is implicit to his post. Beyond the bounds of his 430-page report, he had to believe in a greater good.
As naive as that seems to us, great things are almost exclusively achieved by the ignorant. You don’t search for miracles without believing they’re possible. If Garcia was going to cleanse FIFA, he had to make himself ignorant to what it actually was.
Look into the bids, they must of asked. You or I would have laughed. You can’t be serious, FIFA. We’re not wasting our time. Garcia, however, was convinced to say yes. Something inside him said FIFA was worthy of his trust. This snake could be taught to walk.
But he was swindled. Eighteen months of his professional life’s gone for naught. Worse, by his account, his investigation has been misrepresented by the other hand on the body’s investigative arm: German judge Hans-Joakim Eckert. The check, the balance has become a block. Michael Garcia, you’ve been bamboozled.
Garcia points to a “lack of leadership” at the top of FIFA. He should also point to a lack of foresight within himself. Even at a fan’s distance from Zurich, it’s clear to us that FIFA can’t be trusted – that any hint that the body should be cleaned up will be overwhelmed by a myriad members thriving off corruption.
If Garcia believed otherwise, he was the last person on earth who did so. And if that’s true, he precipitated his own failure. Today was destined to come.