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Bribe hidden in South Africa Cup bid?

Johannesburg's Sunday Independent newspaper says a sum of $10 million was paid to the American body CONCACAF before the 2010 World Cup was hosted by South Africa. Its soccer president Danny Jordaan denies it was a bribe.

The South African newspaper quoted Jordaan (pictured above) on Sunday as saying that the sum was paid to the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) in 2008.

That would have been four years after South Africa won the bidding on May 15, 2004, over Morocco.

CONCACAF was headed at the time by Jack Warner, a former FIFA vice president, who was one of 14 soccer and sports marketing officials indicted in recent days by US authorities.

FIFA Vize-Präsident Jack Warner Korruptionsvorwürfe

Jack Warner denies wrongdoing

Warner was arrested in Trinidad on Wednesday but was freed a day later on bail pending US extradition proceedings.

The US indictment said a "high ranking FIFA official" authorized in 2008 a $10 million payment to Warner as American confederation head.

'Football development'

Jordaan, who also led South Africa's Local Organizing Committee (LOC), told the Sunday Independent that the $10 million (9.1 million euros) was intended for American "football development" and did not amount to a bribe.

That sum was allegedly deducted directly by FIFA from a $100 million payment it had intended for South Africa to help it finance its hosting of the 2010 tournament.

The Sunday Independent said it had "been reliably informed" that the South African Football Association (SAFA) received only $80 million. The balance of $10 million went toward new South African premises, Safa House.

'Part of African diaspora'

The newspaper quoted another unnamed SAFA official as saying CONCACAF was chosen as recipient because "it regarded itself as part of the African diaspora."

And, it quoted Jordaan as denying that any bribe took place: "How could we have paid a bribe for votes four years after we had won the bid?"

He insisted it was not a bribe: "I haven't paid a bribe or taken a bribe from anybody in my life."

In addition, Jordaan had said that during his tenure as LOC chief FIFA rules allowed him to only authorize "a maximum of R1 million" (75,000 euros) in payments.

Jahresrückblick 2010 International Juni Südafrika Fussball WM

Blatter and South African President Zuma in 2010

Sports minister declines comment

The Sunday Independent said current South African Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula declined to respond on Saturday to the question of whether he was aware that $10 million was paid by FIFA to CONCACAF on behalf of South Africa in 2008.

Mbalula referred the newspaper back to Jordaan "who will then give you all the details you want."

Jordaan's admission that money had gone to CONCACAF followed a week of denials by South African football and government officials, the newspaper said.

Let probe proceed, says Blatter

Fifth-term FIFA president Sepp Blatter, who was re-elected Friday, with block votes from Asia and Africa but opposed by the European football body UEFA, said on Saturday he would not comment on South Africa's 2010 bid.

"I don't go into these allegations. If such a thing is under investigation let it go [on] and definitely that's not me," Blatter said.

Warner, after his release on bail on Thursday, gave a defiant speech in Trinidad, asking why persons at FIFA had not also been charged over the alleged money transfer?

Thabo Mbeki, who was president when South Africa won the bid in 2004, was quoted on Sunday by the news agency AFP as saying "no public money was ever used to pay a bribe."

Blatter facing Swiss quizzing

Britain's Sunday Times newspaper said Blatter would be quizzed by Swiss prosecutors along with nine other serving FIFA officials as part of a separate Swiss investigation into the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids.

Russian and Qatar denied wrongdoing in their bids.

The British bank Barclays has reportedly also launched an internal probe.

After Friday's FIFA congress election in Zurich, its sponsors, including Coca-Cola and VISA, called for quick moves to create transparency.

ipj/bw (dpa, SID, AP, Reuters, AFP)

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