South Africa, Sport

Is Safa’s alleged bribery at the centre of Blatter stepping down?

Is Safa’s alleged bribery at the centre of Blatter stepping down?

Despite being defiant just four days ago, Sepp Blatter has announced that he will stand down as FIFA president. This comes in the wake of a spiral of arrests and allegations. At the centre of these allegations seems to be South Africa’s alleged involvement in buying votes for the 2010 World Cup. By ANTOINETTE MULLER.

Why would I step down? That would mean I recognise that I did wrong.”

That’s what Sepp Blatter said last week, in the wake of being elected for his fifth term as president. That’s what he said despite the fact that several high-ranking FIFA officials were arrested by the FBI in Zurich, and several more were implicated in dubious dealings in a lengthy indictment released by the US Department of Justice.

Now, just a few days later, Blatter has announced that he will step down as FIFA president. He didn’t say exactly when, but said that he would “urge the Executive Committee to organise an Extraordinary Congress for the election of my successor at the earliest opportunity”.

In keeping with the ‘extraordinary’ theme, this is quite an extraordinary development, and it might also suggest that there is much more to come. Blatter’s remarks during the announcement were quite vague, but when you put two and two together, it becomes quite clear how the pressure has been mounting on him. While he has remained defiant a surprising length of time, new developments on Tuesday tightened the noose around the embattled governing body.

At the centre of the drama is the South African Football Association (SAFA) and the alleged $10 million bribe they authorised through FIFA to help win the vote for the 2010 World Cup. Blatter’s support for Africa, and in particular an African World Cup, has been well-publicised over the last few years. He supported South Africa as favourites when they bid against Germany for the 2006 edition, and favoured the country when it won in 2010. But winning that bid was, allegedly, not as clean as it seemed. The 164-page indictment which led to the arrests of a number officials last week implicated South Africa by saying they had paid a bribe to Jack Warner, the former FIFA vice president, which was authorised by high-ranking FIFA officials. It has since emerged, through a letter dated back to 2008 which was written by SAFA’s Molefi Oliphant, that a missive was addressed directly to Jerome Valcke to authorise this payment.

More details will follow. DM

Photo: A picture dated 27 June 2007 shows FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter talking to members of the media during a press conference in Zurich, Switzerland. FIFA president Joseph Blatter intends to resign, calling an extraordinary congress to elect his successor, he announced at a news conference on 02 June 2015. EPA/ALESSANDRO DELLA BELLA


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