France Football has reported that FIFA's leading ethics investigator is to begin a worldwide tour to all countries involved in the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups as part of a probe into the controversial attribution of the tournaments to Russia and Qatar.
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Michael J. Garcia, a former district prosecutor in New York, had declared in France Football last March that he would "put everything on the table without any preconceived ideas", and the weekly magazine has now claimed he is putting his plan into action.
Garcia is reportedly due to arrive in London on October 9 for a three-day visit which will mark the start of his global tour of all of the prospective local organising committees involved in the controversial vote on December 2, 2010, which led to Russia and Qatar being awarded the 2018 and 2022 World Cups respectively.
Garcia, who specialised in combatting international terrorism until he took on the FIFA role in July 2012, has reportedly already held a number of talks with individuals involved in the process of attributing the tournaments, but is now set to move his investigation into "a higher gear".
"I will proceed with interviews in different places and I hope that those who have information, even if they're under no obligation to transmit it, will accept to talk to me," Garcia is quoted as saying. "There are those who give me information voluntarily because they want the enquiry to make progress. Others are obliged to co-operate because of their role in the candidature or their official role within football. My aim is to deliver a report that covers the bidding process and the attribution of the tournaments."
The magazine believes Australia, which bid for the 2022 tournament, will be Garcia's next port of call after England with other unsuccessful bidders, Japan, South Korea, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium and the USA, coming before he heads to the host nations themselves.
France Football report the first phase of Garcia's visits will be completed by the start of 2014 after which a report will be drafted and handed to Hans-Joachim Eckert, president of the judicial arm of FIFA's Ethics Commission.
A ruling is not expected until March-April next year at the earliest, and influential figures such as U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati have called on Garcia's enquiry to first be completed before discussions are held over whether the Qatar World Cup should be held in winter.