S'Busiso Mseleku

Bribe allegations, letters - and the truth

2015-06-09 12:54
S’Busiso Mseleku (File)

What is truth?

There are a number of definitions for this. Wikipedia tells us truth "is most often used to mean in accord with factor reality, or fidelity to an original or to a standard or ideal" while another explanation says "truth is what actually/really happened".

Since that famous US indictment almost two weeks ago now cited that South Africa had paid a $10 million to secure the rights to host the 2010 Soccer World Cup, several letters have emerged.

First, to emerge from somewhere, was a letter written by then South African Football Association (SAFA) president Molefi Oliphant.

The letter was flaunted as "proof" that South Africa had indeed paid a bribe as the letter not only instructed FIFA to release a sum  of $10 million to CONCACAF but also gave strict instructions that Jack Warner must handle the funds.

Then a few days later, another letter, written earlier by the SA 2010 World Cup Local Organising Committee (LOC) CEO Danny Jordaan with similar instructions, emerged.

Olifant has expressed his disappointment with Jordaan for not disclosing the existence of his letter in their meeting after the scandal broke, using strong words such as that he feels "betrayed" by the incumbent SAFA president.

By the end of this past week, there were revelations that there was yet another letter from FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke to then Finance Minister Jabu Moleketi about the transfer of that money.

Valcke's letter alludes to discussions between FIFA and the SA government as well as between Sepp Blatter and President Thabo Mbeki on the same issue.

The SA government has denied paying a bribe and Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula has already addressed two press conferences on this issue and issued a number of statements dismissing this allegation.

Surely, when you are putting together an event as big as the World Cup, there will  be a lot of correspondence between all the parties involved?

So, do these letters prove that there was a bribe? Is this the truth?

To me, what that American indictment has done, is lead to a lot of finger-pointing and stirring of existing divisions in SA football that we thought had thawed.

It has also created a situation where the South African government, from former President Thabo Mbeki to those who served in the 2006 Bid Committee and all the members of the 2010 LOC are suspects and find the need to defend themselves in the public sphere.

But maybe, there is something the US knows. After all who gave us the Salt Lake Olympic Games scandal?

They now say corruption within FIFA has been going on for over 24 years. Well then, there was a World Cup that was staged in some country in the year 1994 which my poor maths tells me was 21 years ago...

Is that one being investigated again or is it a matter of there is no way that Africa could have secured hosting the World Cup fairly because out of this continent there must always be something dark coming out?

If there are people who committed a crime or crimes, let them be investigated, be arrested and sentenced if found guilty rather than be tried in the public court.

I am a great believer in the notion that there are three sides to a story: Your side, my side and the truth.

The truth shall out!

But at this stage, we are still not wiser as to what actually happened.

And while all these letters were being leaked left right and centre, Orlando Pirates were impressively marching to the group stages of the CAF Confederation Cup and Barcelona were making their own history by winning the treble - La Liga, Kings Cup and the Champions League.

What a beautiful game that is marred by off the field shenanigans!

S’Busiso Mseleku is regarded as one of Africa's leading sports journalists and an authority on football. He has received some of the biggest awards in a career spanning well over 20 years. He is currently City Press Sports Editor.

Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.


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