FIFA dismisses prosecutor Michael Garcia's appeal of how his World Cup probe was handled

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Ethics prosecutor Michael Garcia's appeal against the handling of his World Cup bid investigation was dismissed by FIFA on Tuesday.

FIFA said Garcia's case was ruled "not admissible" by the appeals panel.

The former U.S. Attorney had objected to ethics judge Joachim Eckert's summary of the World Cup bid investigation, claiming "numerous materially incomplete and erroneous representations" of his work.

Eckert sought to close down the case against all nine bidding candidates. Russia won the right to host the World Cup in 2018 and Qatar won the vote for the 2022 tournament.

However, Eckert's report "does not constitute a decision ... and as such is neither legally binding nor appealable," FIFA said in a statement.

FIFA also provided further legal opinion in a background paper on its website.

"In doing so, the chairman (Eckert) had merely commented on the report of (Garcia's) investigatory chamber on a voluntary basis," the FIFA paper said.

It is unclear if Garcia can now take his appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The ruling was published less than one hour after FIFA announced a disciplinary committee judgment dismissing complaints by two whistleblowers who were interviewed during the probe.

The timing of the decisions — as FIFA President Sepp Blatter and his executive committee gather in Marrakech, Morocco, for a key meeting to consider the case — will further fuel skepticism. FIFA insists that its judicial bodies are independent and not subject to any influence within its Zurich headquarters.

Still, the two rulings will help set the agenda ahead of the two-day board meeting starting Thursday, which appears weighted against reformers seeking greater transparency.

The board is set to receive a review Friday of Garcia and Eckert's work by Domenico Scala, the chairman of FIFA's audit and compliance committee.

Scala should decide how much of Garcia's confidential 430-page investigation dossier should be seen by the board to decide on next steps in the case, more than four years after Russia and Qatar won their votes.

Blatter's board will then decide whether to relax secrecy rules and publish some or all of Garcia's work.

In the disciplinary panel ruling, FIFA said the whistleblowers' "breach of confidentiality claim had no substance."

The FIFA statement did not identify Phaedra Almajid, a former Qatar bid staffer, and Bonita Mersiades, who worked for the Australia campaign.

Both worked in communications for their countries' 2022 bids and left before the December 2010 vote.

Sulser ruled that both women "had gone public with their own media activities long before" Eckert's investigation summary was published last month. Eckert's report also did not name them.

FIFA said Garcia advised Sulser that the complaints against Eckert "were without merit."