South Africa leadership approved World Cup payment: Reports
The highest levels of South African government approved a USD 10 million dollar payment that US investigators suspect was a bribe to get the 2010 World Cup, media reports said on Friday.
Then president Thabo Mbeki and foreign minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma approved the payment which the authorities again insisted on Friday was for a legitimate development project in the Caribbean.
The new revelations emerged as FIFA remained at the eye of a corruption storm after seven FIFA officials were arrested last week and its president Sepp Blatter resigned.
The South African payment in 2008 was made through FIFA and went to an account controlled by Jack Warner, a disgraced former FIFA vice president from the Caribbean wanted by US authorities for accepting bribes.
US investigators suspect the South African payment was a bribe to get three FIFA executive votes for its World Cup bid.
South African authorities say the USD 10 million payment was an honest donation to support football among the “African diaspora” in the Caribbean.
“President Mbeki spoke with the leadership of the 2010 World Cup local organising committee,” Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula told the Beeld newspaper when asked who decided to pay the USD 10 million.
“(It was) the government’s idea.” The Mail and Guardian published a 2007 letter from World Cup bid chief Danny Jordaan to FIFA about South Africa’s donation to the “Diaspora legacy support programme”.
Jordaan wrote that foreign minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, now chairman of the African Union Commission, had advised the money should be paid from the government to the organising committee.
FIFA would then deduct the sum from the organising committee’s budget and pay it straight to the “diaspora programme”, Jordaan added.
The “diaspora programme” was virtually unknown in South Africa, but in a 2011 interview Mbeki said some funds had been given to develop soccer in the Caribbean.
Warner, from Trinidad and Tobago, is one of 14 football and sports marketing company officials and executives facing charges in the United States over more than USD 150 million of bribes paid over two decades.
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