Associate Judge Michael Garcia spent 18 months interviewing 75 witnesses. Photo: Jose Luis Magana, AP

ZURICH – The global soccer body Fifa said on Tuesday it had decided to publish the Garcia report into the decision to award the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar respectively.

Fifa placed a link to the report on its website, and said its decision was made after the report, compiled by its former chief ethics investigator Michael Garcia in 2014, was “illegally leaked” to a German newspaper.

“For the sake of transparency, Fifa welcomes the news that this report has now been finally published,” it said, adding that the decision was made “to avoid the dissemination of any misleading information”.

Garcia, who is now an associate judge at the Court of Appeals for the state of the New York, spent 18 months and interviewed 75 witnesses as he investigated the convoluted bidding process for the two tournaments.

His report was not published but instead handed to the then-Fifa ethics judge Hans-Joachim Eckert, who issued a 42-page summary which said there was not enough evidence to re-open the bidding process.

Garcia publicly criticised Eckert’s summary and resigned one month later, in December 2014.

Fifa then agreed the report could be published once all investigations against individuals had been completed.

Fifa’s situation took a dramatic turn in 2015 when several dozens soccer officials were indicted on corruption-related charges in the United States, while the Swiss attorney general’s office opened a criminal investigation into the award.

Fifa president Sepp Blatter was later banned for six years following an internal ethics investigation.

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