World Cup 2018/2022 Probe to be Completed by June 9: FIFA

FIFA has not yet commented on reports by the Sunday Times newspaper that Mohamed bin Hammam, a former FIFA vice president from Qatar, paid more than $5 million to football officials around the world before the 2010 vote that awarded the 2022 contest to the Gulf state.

Updated: June 03, 2014 08:22 IST
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Paris: FIFA announced on Monday its probe into the 2018 and 2022 World Cup host bids would be completed by June 9 as the corruption row over Qatar's controversial winning bid intensified. (Watch: Qatar's 2022 World Cup Bid Fixed?)

Confirmation that the long awaited report was imminent came against a mounting clamour to hold a new bid for 2022 after accusations that a top Qatari official made slush fund payments to secure support.

The chorus for a revote was led by Australia, who lost out to Qatar, who declared that corruption accusations against Qatar were a "serious development".

British government and football officials have also said a new vote should be held if the accusations in The Sunday Times newspaper were proved accurate.

The 2018/2022 World Cup bid probe is being chaired by Michael J. Garcia.

The former United States attorney confirmed: "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 report will consider all evidence potentially related to the bidding process, including evidence collected from prior investigations," his statement on FIFA's official website added.

FIFA has not yet commented on reports by the Sunday Times newspaper that Mohamed bin Hammam, a former FIFA vice president from Qatar, paid more than $5 million to football officials around the world before the 2010 vote that awarded the 2022 contest to the Gulf state.

Qatar has strongly denied the allegations and vowed to "defend the integrity" of its bid.

Some reports have said Garcia was to meet Qatari officials in Oman on Monday. The encounter has not been officially confirmed however.

Football Federation Australia (FFA) said Monday it may re-submit its bid to host the 2022 tournament after the corruption allegations.

Australia was one of the defeated candidates, along with South Korea, Japan and United States at the FIFA vote in December 2010.

"It's a serious development, they're serious allegations and we're looking to see what the response to that will be," FFA chief executive David Gallop told Australian radio.

Gallop said the FFA had been "heavily involved" in FIFA's corruption investigation and had provided documents and interviews to Garcia.

In the first FIFA executive vote on the 2022 contest, Qatar received 11 votes, South Korea four, the United States and Japan three each and Australia one.

Qatar went on to beat the United States 14 votes to eight in the fourth round.

US officials have not yet commented. South Korea said it would wait for "confirmed facts" before deciding its position.

Asia Football Confederation (AFC) President Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, meanwhile, expressed his grave concern over the media reports calling into question Qatar's hosting of the 2022 tournament.

"The Asian Football Confederation stands by Qatar when it defends its rights to host the World Cup of 2022," Sheikh Salman told journalists in Manama.

"The insistence of certain media outlets on how the organisation of the 2022 World Cup was awarded is part of a campaign (against Qatar)," he added,

"That leads us to question the real reasons behind this campaign and to ask whether certain people are not trying to stop the World Cup being organised in an Asian country."

The choice of Qatar shocked many people because of the searing heat that any summer matches will be played in. FIFA president Sepp Blatter wants the 2022 event moved to the northern winter. Critics have also highlighted the Qatar's lack of a football tradition.

The Sunday Times newspaper said it had obtained emails, documents and bank transfers relating to alleged payments made by Hammam to get a "groundswell" of support for the wealthy emirate's bid.

Hammam was banned from world football in 2011 after being caught bribing voters in his campaign to be elected FIFA president. Qatar has since disowned the official.

"We vehemently deny all allegations of wrong-doing," said Qatar's World Cup organising committee in a statement released Sunday.

"We will take whatever steps are necessary to defend the integrity of Qatar's bid and our lawyers are looking into this matter."

The Qatari committee again strongly denied that Hamman played any active role in its campaign to win the tournament.

FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce, from Northern Ireland, said that if there if "concrete evidence" of corruption is shown then he would back a new vote on 2022.

English Football Association chief Greg Dyke also said there should be a new vote if there was a "corrupt system" in the 2010 vote.

Garcia is also looking into a vote in 2010 that awarded the 2018 World Cup to Russia. England was one of the losing candidates in that vote.

Most major football powers have held back from commenting on the new accusations. But former Russian Football Union president Vyacheslav Koloskov described the new allegations as part of a British "witch hunt".

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