Sports minister strongly denies that SA paid bribes to Fifa officials

2015-05-29 19:35
Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula: ‘South Africa … will not stand in any way of pursuing justice, criminality, fighting corruption in sport.’ PHOTO: CORNEL VAN HEERDEN

SOUTH African Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula yesterday denied allegations that huge bribes were paid to win the right to host the 2010 World Cup, saying that public money had not been given to “criminals”.

Fifa has been engulfed in a bribery scandal that includes accusations from the U.S. attorney general that Fifa officials took cash in return for awarding the tournament to South Africa.

The U.S. indictment alleged that bundles of cash in a briefcase were handed over at a Paris hotel as a bribe by a “high-ranking South African bid committee official”.

It also alleged the South Africa government agreed that $10 million (R121 million) that was due to be paid to South Africa to run the World Cup was instead transferred from Fifa’s funds to pay bribes to former Fifa vice president Jack Warner.

“We as a government and people managing the resources of the South African people — we did not share part of your resources with criminals, I am saying it now and forever,” Mbalula said.

“The South African government and its people will not stand in any way of pursuing justice, criminality, fighting corruption in sport.”

Mbalula criticised how the U.S. had made its allegations without consulting South Africa.

“We are not and we have never acted in Hollywood and we are not used to these things,” he said.

“Let us protect our sovereignty and national interest and fight corruption — but equally we must not allow to be abused … people seem to cast aspersions on our integrity.”

The South Africa Football Association on Wednesday dismissed the allegations as “baseless”.

“We are disappointed at the baseless and untested allegations and request proof from anyone who has contrary evidence,” national football association spokesperson Dominic Chimhavi said.

“Our bid campaign was run by, among others, late president Nelson Mandela, former president Thabo Mbeki and several government ministers, who are men of integrity.”

“When we concluded the Fifa World Cup here in South Africa we got a clean audit report,” Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe told reporters in Cape Town earlier yesterday.

“There has never been any suggestion that anything untoward happened in South Africa.” — SuperSport


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