FIFA has confirmed that its chief ethics investigator Michael Garcia has proceeded with his appeal against Hans-Joachim Eckert's 42-page summary of his 430-page report into alleged corruption surrounding the bidding processes for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
Eckert, chairman of the Adjudicatory Chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee, met with Garcia last month to thrash out their differences over the interpretation of the report and agreed to turn the entire file over to Domenico Scala, chairman of FIFA's Audit and Compliance Committee, to further examine the case in-house.
Last week, the names of five individuals reported to be facing formal disciplinary action as part of the World Cup anti-corruption probe were published, including Michel D'Hooghe, one of FIFA's longest serving administrators.
The 68-year-old Belgian doctor, chairman of FIFA's Medical Committee, is one of three current Executive Committee members who took part in the December 2010 ballot that chose Russia and Qatar as World Cup hosts.
The others are Ángel María Villar Llona, a former Spanish international footballer and now President of the Spanish Football Federation, and Thailand's Worawi Makudi, a member of the Executive Committee since 1997.
German legend Franz Beckenbauer, who voted four years ago but has since retired from FIFA, is also being investigated, as is Chile's Harold Mayne-Nicholls, who led the FIFA Inspection Group that evaluated all nine candidates for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
Speaking to insideworldfootball, D'Hooghe said he is suffering one of the hardest periods of his life and is being treated like a "murderer".
He claims he has done nothing wrong and has nothing to hide, and said he cannot work out why he has been targeted when, he says, he cooperated fully with Garcia's inquiry.
Having already co-operated with the inquiry, D'Hooghe revealed he received a follow-up request in mid-October to provide further information to FIFA's Ethics Committee.
"I immediately agreed to go again and did so on November 19 and correctly answered all the points they wanted clearing up," he said.
"I thought at that point it was over.
"Now, I don't know why, they have published the names of five people apparently under investigation and this is after I went back to give them more information."
Because the case is ongoing, D'Hooghe has to be judicious in terms of what he can and cannot say because he is bound by confidentiality, he claimed.
He is at a loss to explain, however, why this confidentiality has seemingly not been reciprocal.
It was Garcia, he revealed, who told him via email that he was being investigated.
"You should ask other people, not me, why they have published my name," D'Hooghe told insideworldfootball.
"It's a very good question.
"I am surprised confidentiality was broken.
"I, at least, have kept my side about confidentiality because I was asked to and that's what I will do for the moment.
"I will defend myself in the correct way."
D'Hooghe says he wants any case against him cleared up sooner rather than later.
"I have asked for a quick conclusion because I am under great pressure," he added.
"I have been in football for 42 years and [spent] 26 in the Executive Committee but this is the hardest period of my life.
"You are just considered like a murderer.
"I am simply a man who has worked for years and years to improve medical issues at FIFA.
"I'm not so much upset as very, very sad."
Two of the reasons D'Hooghe is reportedly being probed are that his son moved to Qatar in 2012 to take a job as a doctor, and that he was given a painting as a gift by Russian representatives in the build-up to the World Cup ballot.
Although he would not go into detail, in a previous interview with insideworldfootball before Garcia launched his investigation, D'Hooghe addressed in full the allegation that he received a piece of fine Russian art in exchange for his 2018 World Cup vote.
He freely conceded he did receive a gift from a long-time Russian colleague, that he could not refuse out of courtesy, but that it had no material value and he stored it away in his attic in Bruges.
"The allegations hurt me," D'Hooghe said at the time.
"I didn't promise anything to anyone, I didn't vote for Russia - I voted for my own country - and I never received Russian art.
"Do you think after 23 years with a reputation for integrity that I would sell my vote for a stupid painting that has no value?
"You can come and play darts on it if you like."
According to The Sunday Times, D'Hooghe, whose country jointly bid with Holland for 2018, is also alleged in a database of intelligence gathering on behalf of England's own failed bid, to have possibly traded votes with the FIFA Executive Committee members of Japan, one of the candidates for 2022 in the joint ballot.
D'Hooghe describes the vote-trading claim as "total bull**** and absolutely not true" and says neither his son's job nor the painting had anything whatsoever to do with the voting process.
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