PRETORIA: Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula has denied again that South Africa bribed its way to obtaining the 2010 World Cup finals writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
The original allegation was laid bare in May last year when the United States Department of Justice published its indictment statement in its corruption against senior football officials.
It was repeated in documentation presented on Wednesday by world federation FIFA to a New York court in support of a claim for restitution and damages against who have pleaded guilty, and who may yet be convicted, in the $200m corruption case.
FIFA stated its former vice-president Jack Warner had used the artifice of an ‘African diaspora’ organisation in the Caribbean to obtain a $10m bribe from the South African World Cup bid committee. This was the price for casting the three central and north American votes in favour of South Africa in the executive committee ballot in 1995.
Warner, former CONCACAF president who denies wrongdoing and is contesting a US extradition application in Trinidad, is alleged to have shared the money with Chuck Blazer, his CONCACAF ‘right hand’, as well as with a now-dead fellow member of the FIFA exco.
Not contested is that in 2008 FIFA actioned a payment of $10m from its South African World Cup support account to Warner in his guise as a coordinator with the ‘African diaspora’.
At issue is the purpose behind the payment and what happened to the money.
Today Mbalula said: “South Africa did not pay any bribe nor did it illegally obtain the right to host the World Cup. What we did was pay money to a legacy project in the African Diaspora in the Caribbean.
“South Africa hosted the most successful World Cup in history so how is it possible that FIFA now becomes a victim?
“FIFA is trying to exonerate its own governing structures. FIFA must retract its statement. We will meet with the [South African state] presidency to decide whether to appoint the commission of inquiry.
“Now that investigations have been finalised, FIFA must furnish us with the report.”
Mbalula confirmed that three members of the 2010 local organising committee – the then SAFA president Molefi Olifant, LOC ceo Danny Jordaan and LOC chairman Irvin Khoza – had discussed the issues with FIFA lawyers.
However he indicated a belief that FIFA had made the claim for political reasons to protect its status as a ‘victim’ in the FIFAGate case.
Mbalula also came under pressure at his news conference over domestic allegations that he was one of number of ministers who owed their positions to the billionaire Gupta family reputed influence President Jacob Zuma.
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