Five investigated, including three FIFA execs, in World Cup corruption probe

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The fallout from FIFA’s investigation into alleged corruption during the 2018/2022 World Cup bidding process continues.

On Thursday it was announced that five individuals are under investigation following a two-year investigation into alleged corruption by FIFA ethics committee chairmen Michael Garcia and Joachim Eckert.

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The three FIFA executive committee members named by the Associated Press, and numerous report throughout Europe, are FIFA vice president Angel Maria Villar of Spain, Michel D’Hooghe of Belgium and Worawi Makudi of Thailand.

German legend Franz Beckenbauer and Harold Mayne-Nicholls of Chile are the other two individuals who have come under scrutiny in Garcia’s report and they are also being investigated.

Earlier this month American lawyer Garcia appealed against Eckert’s 42-page report on his findings, as Eckert had cleared Qatar and Russia of any wrongdoing during the World Cup bidding process. However, that ruling has now been overturned as the investigation into corruption continues.

As for the individuals identified on Thursday — FIFA were incredibly worried that the identity of those under investigation would be released and hence did not want to make Garcia’s report public — Villar led Spain-Portugal’s failed 2018 bid and is alleged to have been a part of collusion with Qatar for votes, which is in breach of FIFA rules.

D’Hooghe has stated he voted for the Netherlands-Belgium bid for 2018 but also revealed that he accepted a painting from a former Russia FIFA colleague during the bidding process. As for Makudi, he is alleged to have sought favors from England’s failed 2018 bid but he had denied those claims and they were dismissed in 2011 when FIFA’s ethics committee originally looked investigated the bidding process, in-house. Now Makudi is back under scrutiny following Garcia and Eckert’s investigation.

As for Beckenbauer, he was a FIFA voter on the board back in 2010 which picked Russia as the hosts for the 2018 tournament and Qatar in 2022. He was initially suspended for failing to comply to Garcia’s report in June, but has since co-operated. Mayne-Nicholls helped FIFA inspect the bids before the 2010 vote and is believed to have asked for work placements for his own family at Qatar’s influential Aspire youth academy.

All in all, this is one big mess that Garcia and Eckert are trying to get to the bottom of. Those are under investigation will most likely be suspended by FIFA while the proceedings go on and with re-elections coming up, both Villa and Makudi could lose their seats at FIFA.

With the FIFA scandal seemingly done and dusted just a few weeks ago when Eckert’s report was released, more and more information is coming to light which throws his original findings into disrepute.

The sad fact is, by the time the tournaments in Russia and Qatar come around, we may be no closer to actually getting a verdict. I wish I was joking.