MARRAKESH (AP) – In the next World Cup bidding process, a vastly different set of FIFA rules should be in place.
It had to be that way after the fallout from the 2018 and 2022 bidding contests, which were finally resolved Friday.
At a meeting in Marrakesh, Morocco, FIFA President Sepp Blatter closed Michael Garcia’s investigation of World Cup hosts Russia and Qatar, and also looked ahead to the next bidding contest – and fresh rules of engagement.
“I am focused on the future,” said Blatter, and pointed to a list of proposals that world football’s governing body is considering for the 2026 bids.
Blatter said FIFA wants to make sure everyone “can be confident that the 2026 bidding process will be fair, ethical and open.”
This might be Garcia’s long-term legacy at FIFA. It’s his recommendations that have now been endorsed by German law professor Martin Nolte, who was consulted by FIFA.
Here’s a look at how future votes are expected to be handled:
NO COLLUSION: Never again will FIFA choose two World Cup hosts together, which some say invites vote trading pacts. These were widely alleged in the 2018-2022 contests, but not proven.
FIFA has also taken the ultimate voting decision away from the much-discredited executive committee. In the future, the ruling board will propose up to three candidates for a vote by FIFA member federations. There are currently 209.
However, Garcia also recommended that board members be barred from visiting bid nations, or being visited by bid officials.
Garcia also wants bid nations barred from voting, as happens in Olympics Games and UEFA European Championship hosting contests.
TIGHTER RULES: The FIFA code of ethics, and bid conduct rules specific to the 2018-2022 campaigns, seemed to leave gaping loopholes.
That should now change.
According to FIFA, Nolte advised that reporting requirements for “gifts, procedures for friendly matches and the role of consultants need to be tightened.”
Payments linked to a friendly match hosted by Qatar between Brazil and Argentina were flagged by Garcia’s report but not judged to have influenced the hosting outcome.
Other bidders were also prepared to send national teams to play matches in voters’ countries.
Garcia has opened proceedings against then-FIFA voter Franz Beckenbauer, the German great whose business associates were employed as consultants by Australia’s 2022 bid.
No World Cup bid has seemed complete without a budget to spend on projects across the football world, in the name of leaving a legacy.
That should stop, according to Nolte.
“The promotion of football development projects by bid teams outside of the country or member association concerned should no longer be permitted,” FIFA said Friday.
One idea seared into the 2018-2022 saga is that Qatar “bought the World Cup.”
The phrase was written by FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke in a May 2011 email to now-disgraced former FIFA vice president Jack Warner.
Valcke later explained it meant Qatar’s “very important budget and (to) have used it to heavily promote their bid.”
Exactly how much Qatar spent is unclear as the bid was not obliged to open its books.
In the future, “bid teams should be subject to a strict legal obligation to allow an audit upon completion of the application and award procedure and to send the corresponding report to FIFA,” the legal advice stated.
SAVE. DON’T DELETE
Russia’s winning 2018 bid denied Garcia’s investigation team key evidence by simply not having it. The Russians said they used computers that were leased and then destroyed, and email accounts were not retrieved.
“The bid teams should be subject to a strict legal obligation to store all documents relating to their activities and to keep them available for FIFA for a specified period,” FIFA said Friday.
Garcia has suggested all documents should be stored at least five years.