Michael Garcia (Getty)

(WFI) FIFA’s ethics investigator Michael Garcia says his probe of corruption allegations linked to the nine 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding nations will be finished next Monday – a day before the FIFA Congress in Sao Paulo.

“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,” Garcia said in a statement released on behalf of the investigatory chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee.

“The report will consider all evidence potentially related to the bidding process, including evidence collected from prior investigations.”

Despite stunning new allegations of bribery revealed by the Sunday
Times in its latest expose on corruption in the 2018/2022 World Cup bidding race, Garcia has indicated that he will not
examine the documents, which will undoubtedly undermine the integrity of his final report in the eyes of many observers.

The newspaper said it has obtained a “bombshell
cache” of millions of documents leaked to The Sunday Times by a senior
FIFA insider. The dossier includes emails, faxes, phone records,
flight logs, documents and accounts that reveal the activities of former
FIFA presidential candidate and Qatar 2022 bid booster Mohamed Bin
Hammam in the run-up to the December 2, 2010 FIFA ExCo vote on the 2022
host country. More
revelations are promised in the coming weeks.

Appointed by FIFA president Sepp Blatter in summer 2012 to investigate allegations of corruption in world football, one of Garcia’s main tasks was to examine a string of corruption claims that tarnished the flawed World Cup bidding contests, which included claims of millions of dollars of inducements being offered and vote trading between some of the bids.

Garcia’s investigation had been set to conclude after the World Cup with a report to German judge Hans-Joachim Eckert, who chair’s the judging chamber of FIFA’s two-chamber ethics committee. Eckert will decide if sanctions are necessary.

In the case of Qatar, following the latest explosive corruption allegations published in the Sunday Times, the Gulf state will find out if it is being stripped of the 2022 World Cup and a revote is needed. If Eckert works quickly, a decision may come in July or August.

FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke had last month urged Garcia, a former United States attorney, to deliver a report before the Brazil World Cup.

But the New York lawyer had not yet finished his global tour of the nine bidding cities. Today he was scheduled to question Qatar 2022 bid officials including Hassan Al Thawadi in Oman.

The statement from Garcia’s law firm Kirkland & Ellis LLP does not say if he will conduct any more visits before next Monday.

Valcke, who was at the opening of the International Broadcast Centre in Rio de Janeiro on Monday, declined to comment about the Qatar 2022 expose in the Sunday Times.

The BBC’s Rio correspondent Wyre Davies tweeted: “Asked today about renewed #Qatar allegations #Fifa Sec Gen Jerome Valcke tells me “I’m only here to deal with #Brazil.”

Under point 8 on the agenda of the FIFA Executive Committee meeting, taking place on Saturday and Sunday, Valcke is scheduled to update world football’s top brass on Qatar World Cup preparations. Any debate about the Sunday Times revelations seems likely to be kept to a minimum, with last-minute preparations for Brazil 2014 taking precedence.

Delegates from the 209 worldwide football associations gather for the FIFA Congress on June 10 and 11 in Sao Paulo. But they are not expected to spend time discussing the latest scandal to engulf Qatar 2022 World Cup organisers. More likely is that Blatter will mention Garcia’s report in his opening speech to underline his efforts to clean up FIFA as part of a wave of reforms of football’s governing body.

By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson

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