Probe into Qatar’s World Cup bid ends next week
FIFA’s ethics prosecutors plan to submit a report on their findings six weeks later
FIFA's ethics prosecutors said on Monday the findings of an investigation into the successful 2022 soccer World Cup bids from Qatar will be completed by next week and a report on the findings will be submitted six weeks later.
The probe – which includes interviews with witnesses and information gathering – came after The Sunday Times newspaper in Britain reported fresh allegations of corruption surrounding the choice of Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup.
FIFA's ethics prosecutor Michael Garcia has also been investigating Russia's 2018 bid.
“After months of interviewing witnesses and gathering materials, we intend to complete that phase of our investigation by June 9,” the investigatory chamber of FIFA's ethics committee said in a statement.
The statement said the team, headed by New York-based Garcia, plans to submit a report six weeks later.
It says the report “will consider all evidence potentially related to the bidding process, including evidence collected from prior investigations.”
Also read: Qatar denies wrongdoing in World Cup bid
The Sunday Times said it had obtained a “bombshell” cache of millions of leaked emails and documents showing that Qatar’s former top football official Mohammad Bin Hammam had allegedly paid $5 million to help raise the Gulf states chances of hosting the 2022 World Cup.
Hamman, who at the time of was an executive member of FIFA, had allegedly used slush funds to pay out the cash to top football officials to win a “groundswell” of support for Qatar’s bid to host the international sporting event.
In December 2010, Qatar became the first Middle East Arab country to win the right to host the international sporting event that is watched by millions worldwide.
Qatari organizers of the 2022 World Cup on Monday “vehemently” denied the allegations their successful bid was corrupt.
Qatar's Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy - the nation's World Cup organizing committee - said it had won the right to stage the finals with “the best bid”, and that it was “time for the Middle East to host its first FIFA World Cup.”
“The Qatar 2022 Bid Committee always upheld the highest standard of ethics and integrity in its successful bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup,” it said.
“In regard to the latest allegations from The Sunday Times, we say again that Mohammad Bin Hammam played no official or unofficial role in Qatar's 2022 Bid Committee.
“As was the case with every other member of FIFA's Executive Committee, our bid team had to convince Mr. Bin Hammam of the merits of our bid.
“We are cooperating fully with [head of FIFA's investigation into corruption] Mr. [Michael] Garcia's on-going investigation and remain totally confident that any objective enquiry will conclude we won the bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup fairly.
FIFA Prosecutor Garcia was due to meet Qatari officials in Oman Monday in a meeting scheduled before the The Sunday Times article was published, as he continues his questioning of those involved with FIFA and other bodies.
“We will take whatever steps are necessary to defend the integrity of Qatar's bid,” the committee said.
The Qataris issued the denial after FIFA’s vice president said he would be in favor of re-running the vote for the 2022 host nation, if the allegations in the Sunday Times could be proved.
Jim Boyce, who was not on the executive committee at the time of the vote in December 2010, said Garcia, should widen his investigation following the newspaper report.
“As a current member of the FIFA executive committee, we feel that any evidence whatsoever that people involved were bribed to do a certain vote, all that evidence should go to Michael Garcia... and let's await the report that comes back from Garcia.
“If Garcia's... recommendations are that wrongdoing happened for that vote for the 2022 World Cup, I certainly... would have absolutely no problem whatsoever if the recommendation was for a re-vote,” the Northern Irishman told BBC radio.
Sepp Blatter, FIFA’s president, has in recent weeks admitted that it had been a “mistake” to hand the tournament to Qatar, citing the searing temperatures in the desert country.
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