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Russia 2018: 'We have nothing to hide' in World Cup bid investigation

updated 12:43 PM EDT, Wed October 2, 2013
Russia will host the FIFA World Cup for the first time in 2018, with Qatar making it's debut in 2022.
Russia will host the FIFA World Cup for the first time in 2018, with Qatar making it's debut in 2022.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Russia 2018 will fully co-operate with Michael Garcia's investigation
  • Garcia to investigate the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups
  • Russia was awarded the 2018 event in December 2010, with Qatar winning the 2022 bid
  • Qatar 2022 World Cup could be moved to northern hemisphere winter

(CNN) -- Organizers of the 2018 Russia World Cup insist they have nothing to hide ahead of an investigation into the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments.

Football's world governing body FIFA awarded the 2018 competition to Russia and the 2022 World Cup to Qatar in December 2010, a decision which has been dogged by allegations of corruption and wrongdoing.

Michael Garcia, a former New York attorney, is head of the investigative arm of FIFA's ethics committee and will visit all of the countries involved in the bidding process for the two tournaments, beginning in London next week. Garcia has always insisted he is completely independent from FIFA and would not hesitate to take action against president Sepp Blatter or other top FIFA officials if he found evidence that they broke the rules.

Read: FIFA stand firm on Qatar 2022 compensation

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The head of media for Russia 2018 says the committee will co-operate fully with Garcia's fact-finding investigation.

"We can confirm the local organizing committee (LOC) will fully support Mr Garcia's work if he contacts us," read a statement issued to CNN.

"The Russia 2018 committee ran a bid campaign in full compliance with FIFA rules and ethics, and we were awarded the right to host the FIFA World Cup because of the unique and compelling proposition we put together.

"The LOC continues to conduct itself with exactly the same degree of transparency, commitment to excellence and spirit of fair play."

Blog: Can the Qatar World Cup be moved?

How and where Garcia's potential meeting with Russia takes place is open to question given in April he was one of 18 people barred from entering the country over what Moscow said were human rights abuses, linked to the lawyer's arrest and charging of Viktor Bout, a Russian, who is serving a 25-year prison sentence in the U.S. for arms trafficking.

News of Garcia's investigation came ahead of FIFA's executive committee in Zurich on Thursday and Friday where it will discuss the possibility of moving the 2022 tournament from the usual June and July slot to December.

"I will conduct interviews in various places and I hope that those who have some information, even if they are not obliged to give me some, will agree to talk to me," Garcia told France Football magazine.

"My goal is to submit a report that covers the World Cup bidding and awarding process."

Read: FIFA puts heat on Qatar

Mark Pieth, who will leave his post as chairman of the Independent Governance Committee at the end of the year, said Garcia's task isn't easy.

"He's in a very awkward situation," Pieth told CNN. "He has no police powers. He can't just walk into an office in Dubai and say, 'I want these files and I want all your hard disks.'

"He has to use the techniques of an international investigator and so the big question is, even if there's evidence around, will he find it? We don't know. What I can do is make sure he gets the manpower and he gets the resources, the money, to run this."

FIFA's decision to award Qatar the 2022 tournament has been particularly criticized, with many suggesting the oppressive heat in the Gulf state makes staging the World Cup there impractical and dangerous. Pieth himself said he had "serious doubts" about the procedure used to give Qatar the event.

Moving the competition from the northern hemisphere summer to winter could present a number of problems to the sport's major leagues and major broadcasters.

"Deals were signed for a summer World Cup," Fox Sports reporter Leander Schaerlaeckens told France Football. In 2011, Fox Sports agreed to pay a record $425 million for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments.

The three rival bidders beaten by Qatar, the United States, Australia and South Korea and Japan, could file complaints with Swiss authorities regarding the bidding process.

Moving the 2022 tournament from its traditional slot in the summer also potentially puts the World Cup in competition with other major events such as the Winter Olympics, the Australian Open in tennis and the National Football League (NFL) season in the U.S.

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