Fifa’s ethics investigator Michael Garcia says he will finish his inquiry into the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids by next week, despite fresh allegations about Qatar.
Mr Garcia, who met Qatar 2022 bid chiefs in Oman on Monday, said his investigation would be completed by 9 June, and he would submit his report in mid-July.
In a statement before the meeting in Oman, the bid committee said Mr Bin Hammam had no association with them and that it was co-operating with the ongoing investigation led by Michael Garcia, who is also looking at the award of the tournament to Russia in 2018.
The statement said: “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.
“In regard to the latest allegations from the Sunday Times, we say again that Mohamed Bin Hammam played no official or unofficial role in Qatar’s 2022 bid committee.
The Qatar 2022 bid committee always upheld the highest standard of ethics and integrity. Qatar 2022 World Cup officials
“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 co-operating fully with Mr Garcia’s ongoing investigation and remain totally confident that any objective enquiry will conclude we won the bid to host the 2022 Fifa World Cup fairly.
“Following today’s newspaper articles, we vehemently deny all allegations of wrongdoing. We will take whatever steps are necessary to defend the integrity of Qatar’s bid and our lawyers are looking in to this matter.
“The right to host the tournament was won because it was the best bid and because it is time for the Middle East to host its first Fifa World Cup.”
The Sunday Times reported that Mr Bin Hammam paid more than $5m to officials linked to sport’s governing body to get support for the country to host the World Cup in 2022.
The newspaper said it had obtained hundreds of millions of emails and other documents that allegedly reveal how Mohamed bin Hammam used slush funds to make payments to create a “groundswell” of support for the bid.
Mr Bin Hammam also allegedly helped to block a vote that would have awarded the 2022 World Cup to Qatar’s rival Australia, and that would have awarded the 2018 tournament to England instead of Russia, said the paper.
The allegations raise fresh questions about whether the contest for holding the 2022 World Cup should be re-run, after Fifa’s president Sepp Blatter admitted in May that awarding the tournament to Qatar had been “a mistake” due to the country’s hot weather.
Greg Dyke, chairman of the Football Association, told Channel 4 News: “Some of this evidence on the face of it is quite compelling.
“If the evidence is there, that the process is corrupt, then obviously the process has to be looked at again.”
If the unprecedented decision was taken to re-run the vote, it is fair to assume that the losers in the 2010 ballot, who had already spent millions of dollars satisfying the technical criteria for a bid, would be in the frame.
The convoluted way the 2018 and 2022 bidding processes became intertwined muddies the waters somewhat, but the United States, South Korea, Japan and Australia could all claim to have been most hard-done-by if any corruption was proven.