South Africa denies paying bribe for bid

Fikile Mbalula — SA Sports Minister

Fikile Mbalula — SA Sports Minister

South African officials have dismissed allegations by US investigators that a $10m (£6.5m) bribe was organised for FIFA officials to host the 2010 World Cup.

There had been a “clean audit report” at the end of the World Cup, a government minister said.

A football official added that the bid was run by “men of integrity”, including the late Nelson Mandela.

South Africa was the first African nation to host the World Cup.

FIFA, the world football governing body, chose it ahead of Morocco.

The South African government promised to pay $10m to former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner and his co-conspirators in exchange for winning the right to host the tournament, an FBI indictment alleged.

The indictment later stated that the South Africans “were unable to arrange for the payment to be made directly from government funds” so instead the $10m was sent through FIFA using funds that would, otherwise, have gone to South Africa to support the World Cup.

In the South African government’s first response to the allegation, Jeff Radebe, a minister in the president’s office, said that leading accounting firm Ernest & Young had given South Africa a “clean audit report” at the end of the World Cup.

Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula added that “our financial records and books for the 2010/2011 financial year and those before and after the World Cup have been audited by the Auditor General of South Africa and no such amount has been found.

“South Africa would “request proof from anyone who has evidence to the contrary to come forward”, said Dominic Chimhavi, a spokesman for the South Africa Football Association (SAFA).

“No need to press any panic button regarding the FIFA 2010 World Cup. Terrible thumb-sucking from individual making those wild allegations,” he said in a tweet.

Mr Warner said on Wednesday that he was innocent of any charges.

He handed himself over to police in his home nation of Trinidad and Tobago and spent the night in prison after delays in processing his $395,000 bail.

FIFA announced a provisional ban from football-related activity on 11 of the 14 people who were charged by the US authorities of racketeering, fraud and money laundering.

But it said the election on Friday – in which FIFA president Sepp Blatter is seeking a fifth term – would go ahead.

Mr Blatter, who has not been named in the investigations, issued a statement on the US case, saying: “Such misconduct has no place in football and we will ensure that those who engage in it are put out of the game.”

Swiss prosecutors have also opened a separate investigation into the bidding process for the World Cup tournaments in 2018 in Russia and 2022 in Qatar.

Swiss police said they would question 10 FIFA executive committee members who participated in the votes that selected Russia and Qatar in December 2010. — BBC


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