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SFO reviewing Garcia Report over 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids

A report by Fifa’s chief ethics investigator Michael Garcia was finally published in its entirety on Tuesday.

The Serious Fraud Office is analysing the Fifa report into the controversial bidding races for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

The decisions to award Russia the 2018 World Cup and Qatar the 2022 edition have been dogged by allegations of bribery and corruption since they were made in December 2010.

World football’s governing body Fifa asked its then chief ethics investigator Michael Garcia to investigate the nine bids, including England’s for 2018.

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Fifa chief ethics investigator Michael Garcia probed the nine bids, including England's for 2018 (Walter Bieri/AP)

He produced his so-called Garcia Report in 2014, and it was finally published in its entirety – 422 pages – on Tuesday.

Now the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) is looking into whether it has cause to act.

An SFO spokesperson said: “The SFO is reviewing the Garcia Report. We can make no further comment at this stage.”

Confirmation of the SFO’s interest comes 20 months after its director David Green told MPs of potential money-laundering offences, including a payment of 500,000 Australian dollars (£295,000) made by the Australia 2022 bid committee to former CONCACAF president Jack Warner which may have gone through London.

At the time, Green, who was giving evidence to the Culture, Media and Sport select committee, said the SFO “cannot touch FIFA with the Bribery Act as things stand” as it became law in July 2011 and most of the World Cup allegations took place before then.

The SFO, in October 2015, had a team of five going through more than 1,600 documents provided by the Football Association relating to England’s failed 2018 bid.

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