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“We didn’t pay any bribes” - Mbalula

“We didn’t pay any bribes” - Mbalula

Sports and Recreation Minister, Fikile Mbalula, has reiterated previous statements that the country did not pay a $10-million bribe to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Addressing members of a media at a hastily convened press briefing at the South African Football Association’s offices in Johannesburg this afternoon, Mbalula denounced claims by the FBI that the money was used to secure South Africa as hosts of the event, saying that it never came from government coffers and was used for the African diaspora in the Caribbean.

“The fact a payment of $10-million was made above board does not equate to bribery. Those who allege should prove their allegations,” the Minister said.

“We categorically deny that our country and government have bribed anyone to secure the rights to the 2010 World Cup”.

His comments comes after the US intelligence and security agency was reported as investigating claims of corruption at the footballing body following the abrupt resignation of its President Sepp Blatter. The 79-year old, who had been at the head of the organisation since 1998, announced his departure yesterday evening less than five days after being re-elected to a fifth term in office.

Responding to questions about the investigation, Mbalula stated that government were not opposed to the FBI’s involvement, but that “we have a responsibility to defend our country's integrity and the world cup legacy”.

“The South African government and the Local Organising Committee did not pay a bribe. We call on FBI to furnish us with the indictment as we await details from the US authorities”.

Asked about why the payment had been to the body’s former Vice President and Head of the Caribbean Football Union Jack Warner, Department Director General Alec Moemi, said that they saw nothing wrong with him managing the funds, as not investigations had been carried out against him.

“At no stage was there anything bad written about him in the media, and given his position at the time, we didn’t see anything wrong with his nomination”.

Moemi also stated that the findings and Blatter’s departure would have little effect on FIFA’s relations with SAFA and that the money was transferred properly from bank to bank.

It has since been announced that Interpol had issued warrants of arrest to Warner and five other FIFA officials on charges relating to racketeering and corruption.