The findings of a Fifa ethics investigation that controversially cleared Qatar of corruption in its bid to hold the 2022 football World Cup have been attacked by report's lead investigator.
Football body Fifa published a summary of an 18-month independent report, which drew scathing reactions for saying there was no evidence to justify stripping Qatar of the tournament.
Instead, the summary criticised the English Football Association - which had repeatedly called for corruption to be addressed - for "improper conduct" in its bid for 2018 tournament.
Hours after it was released, US lawyer Michael Garcia, who led the investigation which led to the report, has said the summary "contains numerous materially incomplete and erroneous representations of the facts and conclusions."
Garcia said he would now contact Fifa's appeals committee about the summary, which Fifa had insisted on publishing rather than releasing his full original research.
Qatar's shock win to host the 2022 tournament led to widespread claims that Qatari Mohamed Bin Hammam, a former Fifa executive committee member, paid Fifa officials £3 million in bribes to secure backing in the vote.
A report from The Sunday Times earlier this year alleged that the bid was won illegally. Qatar has always denied the claims.
The process for both the 2018 and 2022 World Cups - dogged by reports of serious corruption - was "well-thought, robust and professional" according to the report.
The document highlighted "certain indications of potentially problematic conduct of specific individuals" in Qatar's bid, but German judge Hans-Joachim Eckert, from Fifa’s independent ethics committee which produced the summary, said that these indications were too minor to consider reopening the bidding process.
The 42-page summary concludes Hammam was “distant” from the bid committee and that the payments were related to his challenge to Sepp Blatter for the Fifa presidency in 2011.
In what some see as an ironic twist, the English FA is one of several other organisations singled out for breaking bidding rules. It allegedly tried to win the backing of former Fifa vice-president Jack Warner, who is from Trinidad and Tobago, in its unsuccessful 2018 World Cup bid.
The report says the FA let the Trinidad & Tobago under-20 squad hold a training camp in the UK in 2009 and sponsored a Caribbean Football Union dinner at a cost of around £35,000. It also alleges the FA offered to help a person Warner knew find a job in the UK. English officials could face action as a result.
Russia won the vote to hold the 2018 World Cup, while England received only two votes out of a possible 22.
Conservative MP Damian Collins slammed the investigation as a "whitewash" report that wouldn't convince anyone.
"I do not question the integrity of the people involved in the investigation; but we have to admit that they have been very limited in their ability to request information relevant to the allegations that have been made. They have not had the legal powers to demand to see documents and bank records. They have had to rely on the information that was freely given to them by the bidding nations about their work," he wrote in a blog for HuffPost UK.
In the case of the Russian bid, where all of the laptop computers and email records have been destroyed, this has severely limited their investigation. Michael Garcia was not even allowed to visit Russia during the investigation. The Garcia team have also been limited to interviewing football officials.
In the case of the Qatar bid, they identified the role played by two consultants which gave them cause for concern. However, as they held no formal position within football, these consultants could not be compelled to give evidence to the inquiry.
There has been considerable interest into whether England and Australia were guilty in wrongdoing in their bids. These charges have been made in part because their football associations have fully complied with requests for evidence from the inquiry team; Fifa simply knows more about these bids than those of other nations. However, these points of concern are small when set against the multi million dollar bribery allegations made against Fifa officials which remain unanswered.
Criticism of England's bid draw exasperated responses from football fans, who reacted with disbelief at the fact that Qatar had been cleared while the FA, one of few bodies speaking out against corruption throughout the voting process, was singled out.
Some pointed out that the attention to detail and evidence against the FA seemed more detailed than other areas of the report.
The FA being slammed for its ethics by FIFA is like being chastised by @GordonRamsay for bad language after uttering the word 'bloody'.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) November 13, 2014
Let's just accept that World Cup votes are like the death of that Spinal Tap drummer: "best left unsolved".— Marina Hyde (@MarinaHyde) November 13, 2014
English FA : The investigation by FIFA is as questionable as the BID they were investigating.— ManUtdSince1965 (@ManUtdSince1965) November 13, 2014
Shame on the English FA, we need to hold ourselves to Qatar and Sepp Blatter's higher standards of morals and ethics.— Mike Cheshire (@MikeEcoPR) November 13, 2014
Ah yes, of course - it's the English FA that's the route of all corruption in world football.— Tom Furnival-Adams (@Tom_FA) November 13, 2014
I am astounded at comments in the FIFA report into corruption! FIFA clear themselves & Qatar and criticise English FA for highlighting it.??— Stephen Woods (@Stephen_Woods) November 13, 2014
FIFA's secret in-house investigation clears itself of all wrongdoing and blames the English FA. World dies of shock.— Russ Laughton (@RussLaughton) November 13, 2014
Totally honest and clean Fifa says English FA "corrupt" unlike Paragon of virtue Qatar. you could not make it up... http://t.co/wlQbs0eHLS— Randeep Ramesh (@tianran) November 13, 2014
English FA criticised for... damaging the image of FIFA! Hahahah stop it, my sides!— All At Sea fanzine (@AllAtSeaFanzine) November 13, 2014
Oh the irony of it. Qatar cleared of improper conduct by FIFA, while English FA criticised. Very red faces and choking on corn flakes today!— Glyn Davies (@GlynDaviesMP) November 13, 2014
So the English FA organises a dinner while Russia and Qatar are bribing people left right and centre. Guess who FIFA has decided is corrupt.— Josh Stothard (@Stothy25) November 13, 2014
Suggest a correction
Qatar bid not corrupt. All the money paid was for other things, not the bid. But the English FA, thats corrupt. For daring to speak out.— Alec of Essex (@Smokesniper) November 13, 2014