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World Cup: Who would be a FIFA whistle-blower?

By James Masters, CNN
updated 1:43 PM EST, Tue November 18, 2014
Sepp Blatter, the president of world football's governing body FIFA, announced that a redacted version of the report into the alleged wrongdoing surroiunding the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups would be published. Sepp Blatter, the president of world football's governing body FIFA, announced that a redacted version of the report into the alleged wrongdoing surroiunding the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups would be published.
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Michael Garcia under fire from key witnesses
  • Allegations made following publication of Garcia's summary report
  • FIFA under fire over World Cup bidding process for 2018 and 2002
  • FIFA launches criminal complaint in relation to bidding process

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(CNN) -- They stepped forward to help reform the way football's world governing body FIFA operates - and are now bitterly regretting their decision.

Two female whistle-blowers gave evidence to American lawyer Michael Garcia, who over 18 months investigated the bidding process of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

The women claim Garcia ensured they would have anonymity in his investigative report -- and that he broke his promise.

It's a report that has become mired in controversy after German judge Hans-Joachim Eckert -- FIFA's independent ethics adjudicator -- published a summary of the evidence the American had collated.

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"Our cooperation was facilitated by Mr Garcia's repeated promises - made privately to us and also in public - to ensure the confidentiality of his witnesses," said Bonita Mersiades and Phaedra Al-Majid in a joint statement.

"He said the report would not be published; that only four people would see it; and that the identities of the people he spoke with -- other than current serving football officials or employees -- would remain confidential.

"This was a crucial element behind our decision to cooperate, as we are private citizens and no longer protected by the legal and PR functions of wealthy football federations."

Assurances

The two women insist that assurances were given to them both in private and public that they would not be compromised after agreeing to give evidence "through a sense of natural justice and a desire to bring closure to a long running chapter in our lives."

The women were not identified by name, but they contend they were "clearly identifiable" in Eckert's summary.

Garcia's office declined to respond to CNN's request for a response to the women's statement, while FIFA has said its disciplinary committee will investigate the duo's claims.

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Former head of corporate affairs in the Australia 2022 bid, Mersiades told CNN that Garcia - FIFA's independent ethics investigator -- made a verbal promise to her "more than once" that the report would not be published.

In September Garcia said for the first time that his report should be made public with redactions.

Soon after its publication, Garcia said the 42-page summary contained "numerous materially incomplete and erroneous representations." According to FIFA, Garcia and Eckert are due to meet on Thursday to discuss their differences.

The bidding process surrounding the 2018 and 2022 events has become a lightning rod for criticism of the way FIFA is run.

The organization had hoped the report's publication would put in an end to the intensive scrutiny FIFA has faced. But Garcia's negative reaction to Eckert's summary and the two whistleblowers' subsequent complaints make that seem unlikely.

In a statement, FIFA told CNN that "any potential breach of confidentiality committed by a member of the FIFA Ethics Committee should be examined by the FIFA Disciplinary Committee."

It added: "We cannot prejudice any decision that said Committee could take in this or any similar situation. However, names of witnesses have not been disclosed in the statement of the Chairman of the Adjudicatory Chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee to protect their personality rights.

"Furthermore, the discussion and the public letter by Phaedra Al-Majid and Bonita Mersiades underline exactly the confidentiality issue concerning any of the witnesses when talking about a publishing of the full report."

Eckert's report cleared Russia and Qatar, who will stage the 2018 and 2022 events respectively, of wrongdoing and instead was critical of rival bidders England and Australia.

Sepp Blatter, the president of world football's governing body FIFA, announced that a redacted version of the report into the alleged wrongdoing surroiunding the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups would be published. Sepp Blatter, the president of world football's governing body FIFA, announced that a redacted version of the report into the alleged wrongdoing surroiunding the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups would be published.
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However on Eckert's recommendation, FIFA lodged a criminal complaint with the Swiss judiciary on Tuesday in relation to bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups .

Unmasked

Mersiades says she was not notified before the summary into the report was published, claiming the first she knew about it was last Friday after FIFA released the document.

"The summary by Judge Eckert clearly breached all such assurances of confidentiality," added the statement from Mersiades and Al-Majid, who was in charge of international media relations for the Qatar 2022 bid until 2010.

"Although not named in the report, we were clearly identifiable and within hours of its publication had been widely unmasked as the 'whistle-blowers' in German, British and Australian media.

"To compound this situation Judge Eckert used his summary report to question our credibility. This is particularly puzzling as the summary simultaneously uses the same information we provided to form significant parts of his inquiry in respect of the Australian and Qatar World Cup bids."

According to Mersiades, Garcia told her that FIFA's Ethics Code did not allow for reports to be published.

Confidentiality

Earlier this year FIFA's legal director Marco Villiger told reporters that witness confidentiality for Garcia's work could prove difficult to sustain if the report was published.

"The code of ethics is based on certain principles, one of which is confidentiality," said Villiger.

"Cooperation between witnesses and the ethics committee is based on confidentiality -- if not perhaps certain witnesses, whistle blowers or other parties might not cooperate to such an extent."

Since Eckert's findings were made public, FIFA has faced a barrage of criticism over the way the entire episode has been handled.

Last week Reinhard Rauball, president of the German football league, warned that UEFA's 54 member nations could leave FIFA if the report into the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 was not published in full.

His remarks came just before the Dutch Football Association demanded FIFA hand over a copy of the report, while Greg Dyke, chairman of the English Football Association warned that "urgent action" must be taken to restore confidence in the world governing body.

Read: 'Criminal' twist in World Cup scandal

Read: English FA hits back at FIFA

Read: FIFA launches criminal case

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