That was the response from FIFA vice president and UEFA president Michel Platini earlier today after Michael Garcia, the head of FIFA’s ethics committee, had quit in protest over the handling of his findings investigating the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding procedures.
Michael Garcia cited a “lack of leadership” at the top of FIFA in a resignation statement. He also said he has lost confidence in the independence of his ethics committee colleague, German judge Joachim Eckert.
Though Garcia did not identify Sepp Blatter by name, he also revealed that the FIFA executive committee — led by the longtime president — made a failed complaint of unethical conduct against the former U.S. Attorney in September.
Speaking at the Club World Cup in Marrakech, Morocco, Blatter told The Associated Press he was stunned by Garcia’s decision to resign.
“I’m just surprised,” Blatter said. “It’s all what I can say. Just that.”
Garcia quit a day after the FIFA appeals panel rejected his challenge of Eckert’s summary of the confidential 430-page investigation dossier. Last month, Eckert moved to close the case on the World Cup bidding contest because of lack of evidence.
Russia won the right to host the 2018 World Cup and Qatar was awarded the 2022 tournament.
After Eckert’s summary was made public, Garcia claimed that the German judge had misrepresented his work and then launched his failed appeal.
“(My) report identified serious and wide-ranging issues with the bidding and (World Cup host) selection process,” Garcia wrote Wednesday, adding that Eckert’s decision “made me lose confidence in the independence of the Adjudicatory Chamber, (but) it is the lack of leadership on these issues within FIFA that leads me to conclude that my role in this process is at an end.”
In his resignation statement, Garcia also questioned how FIFA can truly change after years of scandals and criticism.
“No independent governance committee, investigator, or arbitration panel can change the culture of an organization,” Garcia wrote.
Garcia also revealed that the executive committee tried to have disciplinary proceedings opened against him for “allegedly violating the Code of Ethics through my public comments.” The attempt was rejected by the chairman of the FIFA disciplinary panel, at a time when Garcia pressed for publication of key details from his report.
FIFA vice president Michel Platini, also the UEFA president, called Wednesday’s events “a new failure for FIFA.”