Russia bars FIFA investigator

FIFA president Sepp Blatter was asked earlier today about the organisation’s ethics investigator/prosecutor, Michael Garcia, and replied that he had no idea where Garcia was, what he was up to or where he might be planning to go.

Well, one thing we know for sure, Garcia will not be in Russia, not now, or any time soon.

Russia has said it will not allow Garcia to enter the country because he is on the “Guantanamo List” issued in a human rights dispute between Russia and the US.

FIFA has appointed former United States attorney Garcia to investigate “any violations of the ethics code” in the decisions to award the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar respectively.

France Football reported earlier this week that Garcia, a former district prosecutor in New York, was to begin a worldwide tour of all the countries involved in the bidding process.

However, he is on Russia’s list of those barred from the country for his part in prosecuting Viktor Bout, who is serving a 25-year prison sentence in the US after being convicted of conspiracy to kill American citizens and officials by smuggling arms to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

Russia claims Garcia made prejudicial statements to the media regarding his case and his name was included on the “Guantanamo List”,comprising officials banned from entering the country.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said on Thursday: “Let there be no doubt: We intend to react firmly to unfriendly attacks and unceremonious infringements on the rights of Russian citizens. Anyone who is involved in such things should think hard.

“Questions arising in connection with visa blacklists should be addressed to the initiators and executors of the extraterritorial and discriminatory Magnitsky Act, which contradicts norms of international law.”

Leaving aside the irony of Russia lecturing anyone over human rights, their decision to ban Garcia does rather undermine his investigation into the World Cup bidding process.