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Soccer-FIFA lawyer to look at all material provided in corruption probe

Reuters

By Mike Collett-White

SAO PAULO, June 11 (Reuters) - The lawyer investigating allegations of corruption surrounding world soccer's governing body FIFA said on Wednesday he intended to review all information contained in documents seen by the media recently before coming to any final conclusions.

Michael Garcia said he and his team already had access to the "vast majority" of millions of documents the Sunday Times newspaper referred to in a recent report alleging bribery in the runup to Qatar's successful bid to host the World Cup in 2022.

He would attempt to access the rest soon, he added in an address to the annual FIFA Congress being held in Sao Paulo on the eve of the Brazilian World Cup which kicks off in the city on Thursday.

"First, noone should assume what information we have or do not have," Garcia told delegates from 209 soccer federations.

"We've reviewed the recent reports, and all the documents referenced and attached to those reports. The vast majority of that material has been available to us for some time."

Garcia appeared to be attempting to allay concerns that his investigation would overlook vital evidence contained in material that he had not had time to study properly before he handed in a provisional report on Monday.

"We have gone to what appears to us to be the original source of that data and we are confident we will have full access to whatever else may be in that data set and we will review that data for anything else relevant prior to issuing any final report."

Garcia added that his team would consider any material provided to them, but would not delay the publication of the final report indefinitely.

The Sunday Times said some of the "millions of documents" it had seen linked payments by former FIFA executive committee member Mohamed Bin Hammam to officials as part of a campaign to win support for Qatar's bid.

Bin Hammam has not commented on his involvement since he was banned for life from soccer in 2012, while Qataris working on the project say he was not a part of its official bid.

The allegations have overshadowed FIFA's preparations for this year's Congress and caused severe embarrassment to the organisation and its long-serving president Sepp Blatter.

Delegates from Europe have openly urged Blatter not to run for re-election next year, but the Swiss enjoys strong support from other regions putting him in a good position to remain at the helm until 2019. (Reporting by Mike Collett-White)

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