SAPS to probe Fifa 2010 bribery claims

The South African Police Service (SAPS) is expected to launch criminal investigations into two senior football officials in connection with the 2010 World Cup, following a request from the main opposition party, officials said on Monday.

The probe is linked to an alleged bribe paid to secure the rights to host the World Cup.

The charges arise from two letters, one written by South African Football Association (Safa) president Danny Jordaan, who was in charge of the country’s 2010 World Cup bid, to Fifa about South Africa’s plan to donate funds to a Caribbean football development programme, and another by Molefi Oliphant, who was Safa chief at the time. 

South Africa paid $10-million through Fifa into an account controlled by Jack Warner, a disgraced former Fifa vice president from the Caribbean accused by US authorities of accepting bribes.

US investigators believe the money was a bribe to secure South Africa’s selection as host of the 2010 competition. 

Charges laid
“We laid charges of corruption and fraud against the two individuals relating to their complicity in the $10-million that were meant for South Africa but were actually redirected to Concacaf [football’s governing body in North America, Central America and the Caribbean],” said DA lawmaker Solomon Malatsi, referring to football’s governing body in North America, Central America and the Caribbean.

At the time, Warner was Concacaf president. 

Police “can now begin to initiate a criminal investigation that will help clear the cloud over this matter,” he said.

In the 14-page affidavit filed with police in Cape Town, Malatsi said it “appears that Jordaan and Oliphant were complicit with, and indeed seemingly central to the bribery scheme.”

The government and national football officials have strenuously denied accusations that they paid a bribe to secure the right to host the first such tournament on the continent. 

Authorities insist the $10-million payment was an honest donation to support football among the “African diaspora” in the Caribbean.

Malatsi said the DA was forced to turn to the courts after attempts to summon football officials to Parliament were thwarted by the ANC.

Accusations of bribery to win the World Cup triggered an angry response in South Africa, where the event is remembered as a moment of national pride.

Trinidad to rule on extraditing Warner
Meanwhile, former Fifa vice president Jack Warner will learn on Friday whether he is to be extradited to the US to face charges linked to a corruption scandal sweeping football’s world governing body. 

Warner, a 72-year-old a native of the Caribbean island, was indicted in May by a US grand jury on 12 charges of wire fraud, racketeering and money laundering.

US authorities have charged 14 Fifa officials and sports marketing executives of soliciting and receiving more than $150-million in bribes and kickbacks over two decades.

On July 23 US authorities asked for Warner to be extradited to face the charges.

So far only three of those charged are in the jurisdiction of New York.

Trinidad Attorney General Faris Al Rawi on Monday said the extradition case could proceed, and on Friday a magistrate will issue a ruling after hearing arguments.

Warner’s defense is challenging the decision, noting that Al Rawi’s authorization was signed five days after a deadline set by the court.

May swoop
Warner and nine other defendants are still fighting extradition to the US – six from Switzerland where they were arrested in a May swoop on a Zurich hotel – two from Argentina, and one from Uruguay.

Swiss media reported in mid-September that Fifa president Sepp Blatter sold off television rights for the 2010 and 2014 World Cups to Warner at a mere 5% of their true market value.

Warner has claimed that the US case against him is politically motivated and that America is trying to exact revenge because it lost out to Qatar in the vote to host the 2022 World Cup. – AFP

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