FIFA whistleblower says report violated confidentiality

On Sunday, former Qatar bid employee Phaedra Almajid sent Michael Garcia, a New York lawyer hired by FIFA to investigate corruption, a two-page complaint.

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It alleged that football’s world governing body breached its own ethics code by making public information which unmasked Almajid as one of more than 70 witnesses who had cooperated with Garcia’s investigation.

In a report made public earlier this month, Hans Joachim Eckert, a German judge hired by FIFA to evaluate a still-secret investigative report prepared by Garcia about FIFA’s decisions to award the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 tournament to Qatar, examined “allegations of corruption” which a “whistleblower” had made to Garcia beginning in December 2012.

Eckert’s report said “serious concerns” about the informant’s credibility had been “apparent from the outset”.

It noted that the person at first made public allegations of corruption, then issued a sworn statement retracting them.

Eckert said Garcia’s report concluded that the evidence provided by the informant “could not be relied upon to corroborate” their story and that Garcia also expressed concerns that the informant had “altered evidence”.

Eckert added that FIFA could therefore not rely on the evidence of alleged corruption by the Qatar bid that the informant had supplied.

Almajid said that while Eckert did not identify her by name, in practice his report pointed to her as the informant because it mentioned she was the person who made allegations in public in 2011 about corruption related to the Qatar 2022 bid.

“Within hours of publication of Herr Eckert’s summary, I had already been widely identified as one of the ‘whistleblowers’ in German and British media,” Almajid’s complaint said.

She said this violated public “assurances of confidentiality” that a FIFA lawyer reiterated as recently as “two months ago.”

Almajid reportedly was the source for allegations that Qatar’s World Cup bid paid bribes to three FIFA executives from Africa to secure their support for Qatar’s bid.

FIFA spokeswoman Delia Fischer said in a statement to Reuters that allegations of confidentiality breaches “should be examined” by its disciplinary committee and FIFA “cannot prejudice any decision that said Committee could take in this or any similar situation.”

(Reporting By Mark Hosenball; Editing by Ken Ferris)