FIFA, the football’s world governing body, has acknowledged that its own officials accepted up to $10 million in return for votes that awarded South Africa the 2010 World Cup tournament, Agence France-Presse reports.
Allegations that South Africa bribed officials to win the bid to host the World Cup first surfaced last year, following a wide-ranging investigation of corruption at FIFA by the US Department of Justice. Its findings led to the indictment of Jack Warner, a former FIFA vice president and executive committee member, for selling his vote on the 2010 tournament, among other things. The scandal forced the resignation of Sepp Blatter, the organization’s long-term president.
According to AFP, Warner used his son Daryan as a go-between to engineer ”a $10 million payoff in exchange for executive committee votes regarding where the 2010 FIFA World Cup would be hosted.”
This is the first time that FIFA has backed up American investigators’ version of events. South Africa has long denied such allegations. When the issue first erupted last May, the country’s sports minister Fikile Mbalula dismissed accusations of corruption. “We ran a proper process,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “We’re clear we’ve not done anything untoward.”
South African officials involved with the bidding team concede now that a $10 million offer was made to Warner, but insist that it was not a bribe. Rather, they claim it was a donation to the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (Concacaf). Warner was the president of Concacaf from 1990 to 2011.
US authorities say that Warner used Concacaf accounts to launder the cash. He is currently fighting extradition to the US for charges related to these allegations.
The admission by FIFA today (Mar. 16) is part of an effort to collect funds that suspects forfeited to US authorities. ”Tens of millions of dollars were diverted from the football community illegally through bribery, kickbacks and corrupt schemes carried out by the defendants,” said Gianni Infantino, FIFA’s newly elected president, according to AFP. “FIFA as the world governing body of football wants that money back.”