The publication of the so-called Garcia Report has caused a little stir. It turned out though that this was a lot of hot air. Most of the findings described have been known anyway. Questions remain though why it has been published now.
The German tabliod Bild has called it the scoop of the year when they anounced that the full Garcia report would be published on their website. The tension fell flat as shortly afterwards FIFA themselves have published the report and made it available for download.[scribd id=352443079 key=key-SBvHYaH9DuDpOrSbTuS2 mode=scroll]
The report has been written and completed in 2014 by Michael Garcia, an independent lawyer. Shortly after its completion, Garcia left. His work has not been acknowledged nor has he done a proper job. A previous report that was published by the German judge Eckert had the same results. Writers and journalists like Jens Weinreich and Andrew Jennings have written at length about the controversies surrounding FIFA and the bidding process for the World Cups 2018 and 2022 respectively. For years if not decades they have published reports and asked questions, often with the effect that they were banned from FIFA or UEFA press conferences and other public events. It is to their merit that the house of FIFA has been tumbling in recent years and that far more questions are now being asked. Weinreich was not too bothered by the publication of the report. He tweeted that the report provides no new insights
Nice to have: Aber für die RICO-Aufarbeitung #FIFAcrime u Strafermittlungen hat der arg mangelhafte Garcia-Report im Grunde keine Bedeutung.
— Jens Weinreich (@JensWeinreich) June 27, 2017
Question of Timing
What is far more interesting is the timing of the release of the document. It will add more publicity, bad publicity for Qatar. Recently, Saudi Arabia and other states in the region have embargoed Qatar and thus isolated the country. This was justified with allegations that the World Cup host country was funding terrorism and extremism. In order for the embargo to be lifted, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt have demanded that Qatar cuts its ties with Iran and closes the Turkish air base. Further, the country is asked to severe all ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, Islamic State and al-Qaida and has to hand over terror suspects. The biggest talking point however, is the closure of the arabic wing of Al -Jazeera, the biggest broadcaster in the region as well as the New Arab and Middle East Eye. The list also contained a demand for reparations. This demonstrates a direct interference with internal affairs of Qatar and naturally seem unanswerable.
Rightly so, Qatar has refused to discuss any of the demand and has stated that there will only be talks if the embargo is lifted. The blockade of Qatar throws a terrible light on Saudi Arabia itself. It alleges that Al-Jazeera supports dissenting groups in Saudi Arabia. The network is a thorn in the eye of the Saudi ruling family not just since 2011 when it reported openly from the Arab Spring that spread from Tunisia until the Persian Gulf. The royals from the Gulf never fancied a free media and preferred to have their truth being reported as news.
The publication of the Garcia Report and the current embargo against Qatar will have consequences. It means that there will be questions whether or not it is advisable to stage a World Cup on the Arabian Peninsula. There will be renewed scrutiny into working conditions at the construction sites, more questions into the condition of human rights in Qatar.
It appears as though this is a concerted action to discredit Qatar. The decision to award the country with no sporting culture of its own the most prestigious sporting event was grotesque in the first place. It should not have happened. To strip Qatar of its right to be host nation in this way reeks of cowardice.