FIFA ethics investigator Michael Garcia

Whistle blowers who played a key role in World Cup corruption allegations have made a formal complaint to FIFA that promises to maintain their confidentiality have been broken, Britain’s national Press Association news agency reported Monday.

Phaedra Almajid, who worked for the Qatar 2022 bid team before losing her job in 2010, said promises her identity would be protected had been central to her decision to co-operate with the ethics investigation into World Cup bidding.

She and Bonita Mersiades, who worked for Australia’s unsuccessful 2022 World Cup bid, have separately registered formal complaints against FIFA ethics committee judge Hans-Joachim Eckert.

They have asserted his findings, allied to previously publicly-reported statements, made it easy for both of them to be identified.

Almajid, in a letter to FIFA ethics investigator Michael Garcia seen by the Press Association, said her safety and that of her sons had been put in danger by the content of Eckert’s report.

“Not only was Herr Eckert’s summary a crude, cynical and fundamentally erroneous description of me and the information and materials I provided your investigation, it directly breached FIFA’s assurances of my confidentiality,” she was quoted by the PA as saying. 

“Although Herr Eckert did not name me in his report, he directly identified me and my information by connecting it to my publicly-reported statements three years ago.

“Within hours of publication of Herr Eckert’s summary, I had already been widely identified as one of the ‘whistleblowers’ in German and British media.”

 – ‘Personal risks’ –

Almajid added: “Confidentiality was crucial to my co-operation with your investigation, considering my personal circumstances, particularly the safety of my two sons and me.

“I have taken great personal risks to stand up for the truth in a highly politicised atmosphere. 

“However I have found myself betrayed and denigrated for being courageous enough to come forward with critical information,” Almajid said.

In a joint statement issued with Mersiades, the pair said they were not obliged to co-operate with Garcia.

“As we are no longer employed in football in a professional capacity, we were under no obligation to co-operate with Mr Garcia’s inquiry, but did so through a sense of natural justice and a desire to bring closure to a long-running chapter in our lives,” the statement said.

“To compound this situation Judge Eckert used his summary report to question our credibility.”

FIFA cleared Qatar and Russia of corruption on Thursday and ruled out a re-vote for the tournaments despite widespread allegations of wrongdoing.

But within hours of Eckert’s committee publishing a summary of Garcia’s report, the corruption probe was thrown into turmoil when US-based lawyer Garcia said he would appeal against the findings as they contained “numerous materially incomplete and erroneous representations of the facts and conclusions” detailed in his report — which has not been made public.

Meanwhile the former chairman of England’s FootballAssociation said Monday that European governing body UEFA should boycott the next World Cup, in Russia in 2018, unless there was radical reform of FIFA.

“If I was at the FA now, I would do everything I could to encourage other nations within UEFA — and there are some who would definitely be on side, others may be not — to take this line,” David Bernstein told the BBC.

His comments came after German Football League (DFL) president Dr Reinhard Rauball called on UEFA to leave FIFA if Garcia’s report was not published in full. – Agence France-Presse

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