GENEVA (AP) – Hours after a FIFA judge cleared Russia and Qatar of corruption in their winning World Cup bids, the American who led the investigation said Thursday he would appeal the decision to close the case because it was based on "materially incomplete and erroneous" information.
In what appears to be an open act of conflict within FIFA, prosecutor Michael Garcia criticized ethics judge Joachim Eckert's 42-page report clearing the 2018 and 2022 hosts. Eckert's findings, which were released Thursday morning, were based on Garcia's investigation.
The dispute between Garcia and Eckert further fueled the turmoil surrounding FIFA's decision to give the next two World Cups to Russia and Qatar.
"Today's decision by (Eckert) contains numerous materially incomplete and erroneous representations of the facts and conclusions detailed in the Investigatory Chamber's report," Garcia said in a statement released by his law firm. "I intend to appeal this decision to the FIFA Appeal Committee."
Garcia had called for key details of his 430 pages of investigation to be published, provoking clashes with FIFA President Sepp Blatter.
Eckert found that any wrongdoing found in Garcia's investigation did not affect the integrity of the December 2010 votes by FIFA's executive committee.
Eckert formally ended the probe almost four years after the vote by the governing body's scandal-tainted executive committee. No proof was found of bribes or voting pacts in a probe hampered by a lack of access to evidence and uncooperative witnesses.
"The evaluation of the 2018/2022 FIFA World Cups bidding process is closed for the FIFA Ethics Committee," the German judge wrote in a statement released by FIFA.
Eckert's report reserved his harshest condemnation for England's failed bid for the 2018 tournament. It criticized England for wooing disgraced former FIFA vice president Jack Warner and "damaging the image of FIFA and the bidding process."