S'Busiso Mseleku

SA deserves answers to $10m SWC questions

2016-03-22 14:50
Sport24 columnist S'Busiso Mseleku (File)

The South African nation deserves honest answers about the $10 million (which was R74 million in 2008, but translates to R152 million at today's exchange rate).

It doesn't help for the South African government and those who were in charge of preparing for and the hosting of the 2010 World Cup to twiddle their thumbs.

Last week, FIFA, the world football governing body, issued the US government with restitution papers.

In the papers, FIFA claimed that some individuals who were in positions of trust, defrauded it of millions of dollars under false pretense.

They would like to claim the ill-gotten $198 million that US law enforcement agencies have so far retrieved from 39 defendants.

The 22 page document then drops a bombshell on pages 10 and 11.

First, the document prepared by FIFA lawyers Quinn, Emanuel;, Urquhard & Sullivan LLP, states: "It is now apparent that multiple members of FIFA's Executive Committee abused their positions and sold their votes on multiple occasions."

And then BOOM!

At the bottom of the page, leading to page 11, FIFA's legal eagles  state: "Ultimately, given Defendant Warner's (Jack Warner, the then Concacaf president) strong illicit ties to the South African bid committee, the South Africans offered a more lucrative bribe of $10 million in exchange for Warner's, (Chuck) Blazer's, and a third Executive Committee member's votes. Warner and his co-conspirators lied to FIFA about the nature of the payment, disguising it as support for the benefit of the "African Diaspora" in the Caribbean region, when in reality it was a bribe. They disguised and funneled the bribe money through the financial accounts of FIFA, member associations, and the 2010 FIFA World Cup local organizing committee,"

The last line in this paragraph, reads: "They breached the fundamental duties they owed to FIFA, CFU, and Concacaf and stole $10 million."

Since the emergence of the document which was filed last Wednesday, SAFA has been mum, referring all queries to Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula "who is the only one allowed to talk on this issue".

Mbalula did not give anything new than what he had said in his denial of the "bribe" when the matter first emerged after FBI agents arrested a number of high-ranking FIFA officials last May in Zurich.

By the weekend, the SAFA communications department was flaunting around a "denial" by FIFA in a statement purportedly issued by Head of Media Communications & Public Affairs Division, Delia Fischer.

The email titled "FIFA clarifies 2010 payment", contained the following statement:

FIFA STATEMENT ON THE RESTITUTION CLAIM TO THE US DISTRICT COURT

17 March 2016

FIFA’s Request for Restitution is based on the allegations contained in the two indictments issued by the U.S. Department of Justice against 41 defendants. In its submission, FIFA is restating these allegations as the principal basis for its restitution request.

Eleven defendants have pleaded guilty to the charged offenses and admitted their crimes. FIFA intends to seek restitution from these defendants for their misconduct, as well as any other defendants who are convicted.

The US indictments do not allege that South Africa "bought" the World Cup with bribes. Nor does FIFA. The US indictments, which FIFA is relying upon in its restitution request, merely accuses certain individuals of criminal behaviour.

Delia Fischer Head of Media Communications & Public Affairs Division

The key line they relied on, was the one that read: The US indictments do not allege that South Africa "bought" the World Cup with bribes. Nor does FIFA."

Well, you could have knocked me down with a feather!

The lines that I have extracted from the FIFA Victim Statement and Request for Restitution, states it loud and clear.

South Africans are left with so many questions and they deserve answers.

Some of the questions are:

Who made the decision to "donate" $10 million to Concacaf?

Was the "donation" ever discussed at any of the LOC meetings?

Can we see minutes from that meeting?

Was that "donation" recorded in the LOC and FIFA financial statements? If so, please show us the entry.

Satisfactory and honest answers will finally put this matter to rest.

Oh! One last question, if South Africa gave this money above board for the Diaspora programme, now that it has emerged that it ended in some individual's back pocket, why is South Africa not joining FIFA in their application for restitution as a "victim"?

It's as simple as that.

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.

Read more on:    swc 2010  |  s'busiso mseleku  |  soccer
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