FIFA's investigation into the World Cup bids from Russia and Qatar will be completed by next week, the chief investigator said Monday amid fresh corruption allegations against the Gulf nation.
The integrity of Qatar's winning bid for the 2022 tournament has been repeatedly questioned since FIFA's vote four years ago. The Sunday Times newspaper in Britain reported that it had obtained millions of pieces of evidence detailing irregular payments.
Mohamed bin Hammam, a Qatari former member of FIFA's executive committee, was accused of giving football officials payments totaling $5 million to build support for the bid. Despite Bin Hammam's high profile role at the time of the bid as head of the Asian confederation, Qatari World Cup organizers on Sunday insisted that he ''played no official or unofficial role'' in the work of the big-spending committee.
By July, FIFA's ethics investigator Michael Garcia, a former U.S. Attorney in New York, is set to have delivered his verdict on both Qatar and Russia, host of the 2018 World Cup.
''After months of interviewing witnesses and gathering materials, we intend to complete that phase of our investigation by June 9, 2014, and to submit a report to the adjudicatory chamber approximately six weeks thereafter,'' the investigatory chamber of FIFA's ethics committee said in a statement. ''The report will consider all evidence potentially related to the bidding process, including evidence collected from prior investigations.''
Four members of FIFA's 24-man executive committee were banned or resigned following allegations of rule-breaking by bidders and favor-seeking made during bidding for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
Garcia was appointed in July 2012 as FIFA's independent ethics prosecutor.
Bin Hammam challenged Sepp Blatter for the FIFA presidency in June 2011 but withdrew his candidacy days before the vote after being implicated in trying to bribe Caribbean voters. FIFA expelled Bin Hammam in 2012.