For years, football has been known to be a game of
To know just how serious this is, you must listen to
analysis of soccer matches by commentators, experts and the coaches of the two
sides after a game .
Given this, I found it very mischievous of the US
Attorney General Loretta to include South Africa in the FIFA Indictment
that saw about 14 football officials being arrested.
In part, the indictment insinuates that South Africa
paid $10 million or R120 million in today's terms, in bribes to get the right
to host the 2010 Soccer World Cup.
According to the dossier, the money was paid in 2008,
two years before the event took place in South Africa and it came from FIFA
coffers and went directly into Concacaf bank accounts.
Those involved have pointed out that South Africa was
awarded the rights to host the World Cup on May 14, 2004. They question then
why the bribes - if there were any - would be paid four years later.
However, that is not the point of this column.
The problem I have with the Americans, is them
mentioning South Africa at all. They say their investigation started in
December 2014. It culminated in arrests of those who have something to answer
in US courts.
They, and their countries were never mentioned before
they were arrested. So why treat South Africa differently?
All the mention of the $10 million plus the two South
African individuals only listed as Co-conspirator #15 and #16 has done is create a lot of speculation.
Both the SA government and the individuals involved with
the 2006 bid committee and 2010 bid committee and the Local Organising
Committee now find themselves in a position where they need to explain
South African Football Association (SAFA) spokesperson
Dominic Chimhavi's initial statement was to dismiss the allegations as
Fikile Mbalula issued a statement exonerating the government from any
And then on the last paragraph of his statement, he
added: "As this is a matter of national importance, we
call upon all who were involved in the process of bidding and execution of the
2010 FIFA World Cup to desist from making statements and to afford the National
Government of the Republic of South Africa through the Ministry and
Department of Sport and Recreation to handle this matter through the
What this meant, is that the
individuals whose names have been mentioned in the media as the possible Co-conspirator
#15 and #16 could no longer says anything on the matter.
While the Americans have undermined
the sovereignty of this country, I think it also flies against democracy to
deprive people the right to have a say when their names are mentioned in the
same breath with some shenanigans, speculation or not.
While the government deals with the
US on diplomatic levels - government to government - the individuals mentioned
in the media should not be gagged from commenting in the matter.
As things stand, South Africa's
2006 bid committee and the 2010 bid committee as well as the LOC have been painted
in a bad light by the US.
A perception has been created that
there was something underhand with how South Africa handled their bid and
winning the rights to host the 2010 event, which also plays into the perception
of FIFA as a corrupt organisation that has been created over years.
As mentioned at the beginning of
this column, perceptions are very easily created, especially in football.
The US needs to come clean with its
allegations and back them up but in
the meantime let the people who were involved with the bid, LOC and
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.
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