Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula has refuted FIFA’s claim that the country paid a $10 million bribe to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
“South Africa did not pay any bribe nor did it illegally obtain the right to host the World Cup,” he told a news conference in Cape Town on Thursday.
Mbalula rather elaborated that “SA paid money to a legacy project in the African Diaspora in the Caribbean.”
He said that he will seek a meeting with new FIFA president Gianni Infantino to give South Africa’s view of the intention of the US$10-million paid by SA to the Africa Diaspora Legacy Project.
The Africa Diaspora Legacy Project was manned by former FIFA vice-president and Caribbean administrators Jack Warner.
Sports minister Mbalula also accused FIFA of failing to stick to its promise, he said the world football body had earlier promised to give him a copy of its report into its investigation into bribery and match fixing, but surprisingly he learnt about the allegations against the three South Africans in FIFA’s statement released this week.
He recalled that he asked FIFA several times to hasten up its investigation into the claims, because it was reducing the image of South Africa.
Mbalula reiterated that it was FIFA who approved the $10m that FIFA now wanted paid back over alleged misuse. And the approval was done with the SA Football Association and the World Cup’s local organising committee.
He therefore urged FIFA to withdraw its statement that South Africa allegedly paid a bribe to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
“We believe that FIFA must retract its statement.”
“Whatever they want from us as government… we are ready to meet with them in the coming weeks.”
“So, we have got nothing to hide… As a minister we take affront to the way this has been conducted,” he said.
Sports minister Mbalula said South Africa won’t drown itself in the blame and victim mentality game. And that the country is prepared to work with US law enforcement agents in addressing the issue.
He opined that he has also written to Justice Minister Michael Masutha to sway FIFA’s “capricious lawyers” to stop “undermining South Africa’s sovereignty”.
FIFA released a statement on Wednesday, claiming that there was a $10 million bribe, which SA government claimed was paid towards the support and benefit of the African diaspora.
The football body further insinuated that the money paid was bribe to win votes from the region as SA verged Morocco for the right to host the 2010 World Cup.
Also, the US investigators noted that the money paid by SA ended up in the personal bank account of Jack Warner.
Meanwhile, FIFA said it was filing a claim in the US to get back the money it believes was involved in votes for bribes.
The world football body alleged that following this development, its reputation has been dented and its image damaged.