South Africa, Sport, World

Fifa meltdown: Five key points form the weekend’s news

Fifa meltdown: Five key points form the weekend’s news

Missed any of the latest Fifa meltdown news over the weekend? From Germany allegedly sending weapons to Saudi Arabia to Safa’s near 3,000-word response, ANTOINETTE MULLER combed all the news and broke it down in digestible chunks so you don’t have to.

If you’re getting tired reading about the ongoing Fifa meltdown, look away now. The past weekend brought more allegations, more denial and more claims about just how staggeringly widespread corruption has been in the football’s governing body for the last two decades.

This weekend brought more allegations, more letters, more videos and more proof that allegations are always stranger than fiction. South Africa’s unnamed, high-ranking officials remain unnamed and remain in the clear. They insist that should it be so required, they will co-operate with the investigation but it’s looking more and more like this alleged laundering was done very much by-the-book. It only serves to raise further questions of just how involved everyone was and how deep the rabbit hole goes. The #DenyEverything hashtag on Twitter has caused much hilarity and if you don’t believe by now that the 2010 World Cup was just something Bompi was signing while South Africa was actually just hosting a conference, then you’re obviously not really South African.

But several questions remain, including ones asked because everything suddenly looks suspicious. For example: What was South Africa doing it at the 2005 Gold Cup? South African footballer Daine Klate joked about it on Twitter, but it’s a fair question. While teams from outside Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (Concacaf) have taken part in the tournament a number of times, they have usually come from Central or South America. Just one had a team from outside The Americas, and that was South Korea, the co-host of 2002 World Cup. Considering South Africa was invited by the now disgraced Jack Warner and the dodgy TV deals that surrounded the Gold Cup, don’t be surprised if this little rendezvous hits the headlines soon enough. Before then, there’s plenty happening to sink your teeth into and here’s a wrap up from the weekend.

Safa finally responds

The South African Football Association (Safa) finally broke their silence on the allegations that South Africa was aware of a bribe paid to Jack Warner and Chuck Blazer in order to help secure votes to host the 2010 Soccer World Cup. The 2785-word response largely regurgitates what has already been said by South Africa’s sports minister Fikile Mbalula. It continues to insist that the ‘Diaspora Legacy Programme’ was always part of the plan but does not answer the question about why nobody bothered to check how the $10 million which Safa instructed be paid directly to accounts controlled by Warner was spent. It also does not say why, when Warner stepped down amid bribery allegations in 2011, it didn’t investigate whether the money had been appropriately spent. The BBC also published documents which they say prove that Warner had siphoned the money from the so-called ‘Legacy Programme’ for his own personal use. These allegations had been published in the US department of justice’s indictment in May with Warner using a large sum from the funds to pay off personal debt.

Paper trail allegedly links Blatter to the $10 million payment

The South African Sunday Times said on Sunday that it has e-mails which prove that soon-to-be-gone Fifa president Sepp Blatter was aware of the $10 million payment. It said that there is proof that former South African president, Thabo Mbeki, and Blatter had “discussions” over the money that was eventually paid over to Warner. It claimed an email from Fifa secretary general, Jérôme Valcke, stated that the payment was “based on discussions between Fifa and the South African government, and also between our president (Blatter) and President Thabo Mbeki”.

And other sources say South Africa never even won the bid

In the most explosive of all revelations from this past weekend, the UK Sunday Times published claims from Morocco’s Ismail Bhamjee who claims that the actual vote for the 2010 World Cup had been tampered with.

After talking with everybody… Whose votes went where? We’re all colleagues, you know. And then we found out that actually Morocco won by two votes,” the Sunday Times reported Bhamjee as saying.

Bhamjee is no stranger to controversy and was banned from Fifa after he admitted to being part of a World Cup-ticket reselling scheme in 2006, where officials sold World Cup tickets for up to three times the face value. Bhamjee had also previously said Qatar had bribed the African bloc of voters in order to win their votes for hosting of the 2022 World Cup. These allegations might simply be a case of ‘sour grapes’, but it’s not going to do anything for the suspicion swirling around Fifa and Safa at the moment.

It’s Oliphant vs Jordaan

You can insert the pun here about how the Oliphant never forgets. Molefi Oliphant, the former Safa president and the man who was in charge at the time when the alleged bribery took place, has accused Danny Jordaan of betraying him. He told the City Press that he felt “shocked and betrayed” because Jordaan never disclosed the existence of the 2007 letter, written by Jordaan, instructing Fifa that payments be made to the Concacaf. The pair had met last weekend to discuss the saga but Oliphant said Jordaan did not tell him that this letter exists. At the time of their meeting, only a letter with Oliphant’s name and signature had surfaced, requesting a similar payment be made. Oliphant alleges both letters were written by Jordaan and the one with his name on it was given to him to sign off on. It seems somewhat curious that the CEO of big company wouldn’t at least speed-read a letter with his name and signature on. Oliphant, like the rest of the South African officials who have spoken about this, insists that the payment is all legit, though, and the Diaspora Legacy programme is completely above board.

Germany are involved, too

Like we’ve said on a number of occasions, you really can’t make this stuff up. Local German media reported that then-Chancellor Gerhard Schroder’s government allegedly complied with a request from the German Football Association to send Saudi Arabia arms, in an attempt to steer the Middle Eastern nation away from backing Morocco in the knife-edge vote in 2000. Die Zeit also claimed that a number of German firms pledged big investments to Thailand and South Korea in exchange for votes. It sounds like something out of an action movie, but at this stage, nothing seems unbelievable. DM

Photo: A file picture dated 15 May 2004 of FIFA President Joseph Blatter announcing that South Africa would be hosting the 2010 FIFA World Cup during an official ceremony in Zurich, Switzerland. EPA/EDDY RISCH


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