ZURICH: FIFA has attempted to lift the pressure on secretary-general Jerome Valcke by ascribing to Julio Grondona responsibility for approving the controversial $10m transfer to Jack Warner writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
The world football federation had come under increasing pressure to clarify its involvement in shifting the cash on behalf of the South African World Cup organisers in 2008.
Reference to the $10m emerged in the indictment of 14 people by the United States Justice Department last Wednesday. The 14 included Warner, Trinidadian former FIFA vice-president and head of both CONCACAF and its Carribean Football Union subsidiary.
Paragraph 188 refers to an offer by the South African government “to pay $10m to the Caribbean Football Union to ‘support the African diaspora.’”
South Africa was duly awarded the 2010 World Cup by FIFA in May 2004. No monies were paid at that point.
Later it emerged that the South Africans “were unable to arrange for the payment to be made directly from government funds.
“Arrangements were thereafter made with FIFA officials to instead have the $10m sent from FIFA – using funds that would otherwise have gone from FIFA to South Africa to support the World Cup – to [the] CFU.
“In fact, on January 2, 2008, January 31, 2008 and March 7, 2008, a high-ranking FIFA official caused payments of $616,000, $1,600,000, and $7,784,000 -totaling $10 million – to be wired from a FIFA account in Switzerland to a Bank of America account in New York held in the names of CFU and CONCACAF, but controlled by the [then CONCACAF president [Warner] .
“Soon after receiving these wire transfers, [Warner] caused a substantial portion of the funds to be diverted for his personal use.”
Under the norms generally understood to have existed at the time within FIFA, effecting payments for such a sum would have had to be counter-signed by both the finance director and the general secretary. Valcke had taken over the latter role months earlier from Urs Linsi.
However approval for the payment, according to FIFA, came from higher up in the form of Argentinian Grondona who was both the world federation’s senior vice-president and also long-serving chairman of the finance committee.
FIFA said: “Neither the Secretary General Jérôme Valcke nor any other member of FIFA’s senior management were involved in the initiation, approval and implementation of the above project.”
However a letter, uncovered by the Press Association, shows that a formal request for activation of the payment was addressed by name to Valcke in March 2008 by the then president of the South African Football Association, Molefi Oliphant.
Danny Jordaan, who was South Africa 2010 World Cup bid leader and then organising ceo, has confirmed that South Africa did route $10m through FIFA in 2008 to CONCACAF in the form of a development grant.
Jordaan, who is now president of the South African Football Association, noted that the $10m was paid four years after the hosting award, adding: “How could we have paid a bribe for votes four years after we had won the bid?”
FIFA said yesterday that Valcke would not be attending the imminent opening of the Women’s World Cup in Canada because of the crisis.
This also has the coincident effect of removing him from the international press conference firing line.
Following claims made by the US authorities in relation to a USD 10m payment made by FIFA on behalf of the South African Football Association FIFA comments as follows:
In 2007, as part of the 2010 FIFA World Cup™, the South African Government approved a USD 10m project to support the African diaspora in Caribbean countries as part of the World Cup legacy.
At the request of the South African Government, and in agreement with the South African Football Association (SAFA), FIFA was asked to process the project’s funding by withholding USD 10m from the Local Organising Committee’s (LOC) operational budget and using that to finance the Diaspora Legacy Programme.
SAFA instructed FIFA that the Diaspora Legacy Programme should be administered and implemented directly by the President of CONCACAF who at that time was Deputy Chairman of the Finance Committee and who should act as the fiduciary of the Diaspora Legacy Programme Fund of USD 10m.
The payments totalling USD 10m were authorised by the then chairman of the Finance Committee and executed in accordance with the Organisation Regulations of FIFA. FIFA did not incur any costs as a result of South Africa’s request because the funds belonged to the LOC. Both the LOC and SAFA adhered to the necessary formalities for the budgetary amendment.
Neither the Secretary General Jérôme Valcke nor any other member of FIFA’s senior management were involved in the initiation, approval and implementation of the above project.