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As Blatter falls, the plot thickens for SAFA officials implicated by US indictment

As Blatter falls, the plot thickens for SAFA officials implicated by US indictment

The ongoing saga into alleged bribery surrounding the bidding for the 2010 Soccer World Cup reads like a Hollywood blockbuster. The SAFA officials allegedly implicated remain in the clear, but this story is not going to go away any time soon. By ANTOINETTE MULLER.

With Sepp Blatter’s earth-shattering decision to soon vacate FIFA presidency on Tuesday, thing are looking bleak for many an official involved in 2010 World Cup. This is how things looked just moments before Blatter’s bombshell:

It seems completely staggering that Danny Jordaan from the South African Football Federation and a spokesperson from FIFA can both admit to paying over $10 million to Jack Warner’s Caribbean Football Union without fear of prosecution or even getting a slap on the wrist.

Yet here we are. Over the weekend, Jordaan confirmed to the Sunday Independent that yes, SAFA did pay out the $10 million to US administrators, but obviously it wasn’t a bribe. Because “how can it be a bribe if it happened four years after we won the bid”? Either Jordaan is entirely convinced that what SAFA did was completely legitimate or he takes the South African public for a bunch of fools. One thing is certain, though: the amount of money mentioned in the 164-page US Department of Justice indictment, which resulted in a number of high ranking FIFA officials being arrested last week, did indeed go from FIFA to the USA.

FIFA, meanwhile, confirmed something similar and said the payment was authorised by the then-finance committee chairman, and was “executed in accordance with the Organisation Regulations”. The New York Times said that it was FIFA secretary general Jérôme Valcke who was the “high-ranking FIFA official” who made authorised the payment, but he denied doing so.

But what is this Hollywood Blockbuster without some more twists and turns?

A letter dating back to 2008 has emerged, addressed to Valcke and signed by SAFA president at the time, Molefi Oliphant, instructing FIFA to withhold $10 million from the LOC and “advance the withheld funds to the Diaspora Legacy Programme”. It goes on to say “SAFA requests that the Diaspora Legacy Programme be administered and implemented directly by the President of CONCACAF, who shall act as the fiduciary of the fund”.

ant-foulplay-LETTER

You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to know that it was SAFA’s buddy Jack Warner who was President of CONCACAF at the time.

But wait! Like any good US-TV infomercial, there’s more. Daryan Warner, one of Jack Warner’s sons, had already pleaded guilty to similar charges and according to a court transcript, secretly agreed to co-operate with US authorities to investigate a World Cup-ticket reselling scheme back in 2013. Both Daryan and his brother Daryll came as a result of a plea bargain and the court transcript revealed both brothers’ guilty plea.

According to the transcript, prosecutors agreed not to charge him with fraud and money laundering in connection with aiding and abetting an alleged bribe payment by the South African Bid Committee connected to its bid to host the 2010 World Cup.

The Warner Brothers (no pun intended) could potentially provide testimony if the case against the South Africans allegedly involved went to trial. The indictment, released last week, alleges: “Previously, the defendant Jack Warner and his family had cultivated ties with South African soccer officials in connection with and subsequent to a failed bid by South Africa to host the 2006 World Cup.

“In the early 2000s, Co-Conspirator #14, a member of Warner’s family had used Warner’s contacts in South Africa to organise friendly matches for CONCACAF teams to play in South Africa. At one point, Warner also directed Co-Conspirator #14 to fly to Paris, France and accept a briefcase containing bundles of US currency in $10,000 stacks in a hotel room from Co-Conspirator #15, a high-ranking South African bid committee official,” the indictment reads.

“Hours after arriving in Paris, Co-Conspirator #14 boarded a return flight and carried the briefcase back to Trinidad and Tobago, where Co-Conspirator #14 provided it to Warner.”

It doesn’t seem too much of a stretch that Co-Conspirator #14 might be one of the Warner brothers, which would mean that he had direct contact with the SAFA official allegedly involved.

The noose is tightening around the SAFA officials allegedly involved in paying a so-called bribe. Even if the South African officials in the indictment manage to get off on the charge of the $10 million, there is still the money brought in a briefcase to be answered for.

Danny Jordaan also made a snap decision on Thursday last week not to fly to Zurich to vote in the FIFA presidential elections. Jordaan denied that his decision to cancel his trip had anything to do with the investigation and subsequent arrests and insisted that it was all about his new role as mayor of Nelson Mandela Bay. Jordaan insisted that when he spoke about his role, he said that he would be cutting overseas travel out and felt that he would be contradicting himself if he says one thing and did another. The government would not have footed the bill for his trip, though, SAFA would, but Jordaan insisted that it was all about perception. DM

Photo: FIFA President Joseph Blatter (L) hands Jabulani, the official ball for the FIFA 2010 World Cup South Africa, to Danny Jordaan (R), managing director of the organization committee, in Cape Town, South Africa, 04 December 2009. EPA/BERND WEISSBROD

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