The fate of the 2022 soccer World Cup could be decided within weeks, when the man leading the internal investigation into how Qatar won the right to host it makes his announcement.
Former US Prosecutor, Michael Garcia, said he would complete his probe next week and report back in July.
Garcia appears to hold the future of Qatar’s multi-billion dollar World Cup bid in his hands after new allegations of bribery brought loud calls for the tournament to be moved if corruption is proved.
In a statement, he set out a timetable that would see him file a report just after this year’s World Cup ends in Brazil.
Garcia, who heads an investigative committee for world soccer’s governing body, FIFA, was in the Middle East, where he was expected to meet Qatar soccer officials as part of the probe.
Speaking to Reuters in Muscat, capital of nearby Oman, he declined further comment on the inquiry, noting that he was “restrained by ethics”.
Qatar has strongly denied reports in Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper that bribes were paid to officials to bring the sporting world’s biggest global event to the tiny Gulf emirate.
The temperatures during the summer in Qatar when the tournament is played can soar above 50 degrees Celsius (120 Fahrenheit).
The allegations of corruption at the heart of soccer’s governing body threaten to overshadow the run-up to the four-yearly World Cup, which begins in 10 days in Brazil.
“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 by FIFA and referring to a FIFA panel.
The report will consider all evidence potentially related to the bidding process, including evidence collected from prior investigations.