News 2nd June 2015

FIFA & South Africa admit paying Warner $10m

FIFA and the organising committee for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa have admitted arranging for Jack Warner (pictured) to be paid US$10 million, however South Africa denied that the payment was a bribe to secure votes in 2004, when FIFA’s Executive Committee voted to appoint South Africa as tournament host. Although FIFA and South Africa explained that the payment was made as part of a US$10 million project to support the African diaspora in Caribbean countries as part of the World Cup legacy, no explanation was given about how and why this sum was agreed, and no record appears to exist about how the money was spent. Although it admitted administering the payment, FIFA denied that its senior management were involved. However a 2008 letter specifically about the $10 million payment from the South African Football Association (SAFA) to FIFA Secretary General, Jérôme Valcke, appears to contradict FIFA’s position.

At the time, Warner was President of the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) and Vice-President of FIFA. The $10 million payment was arranged to be made by the South African Football Association (SAFA) to finance a Diaspora Legacy Programme in the Caribbean. In its 161-page indictment, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) alleges that in 2004, having already been offered $1 million to vote for Morocco’s bid to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Warner told former CONCACAF General Secretary, Chuck Blazer, that ’high ranking officials of FIFA, the South African government and the South African bid committee […] were prepared to arrange for the government of South Africa to pay $10 million to CFU [Caribbean Football Union] to “support the African diaspora”’. Blazer ‘understood the offer to be in exchange for the agreement of Warner [Blazer and ‘a high-ranking official of CONMEBOL and a member of the FIFA Executive Committee’] to all vote for South Africa, rather than Morocco, to host the 2010 World Cup’. Nicholás Leoz was President of the Confederación Sudamericana de Fútbol, South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) from 1986 to 2013, and was also a member of FIFA’s Executive Committee.

‘At the request of the South African Government, and in agreement with the South African Football Association (SAFA), FIFA was asked to process the project’s funding by withholding US$10 million from the Local Organising Committee’s (LOC) operational budget and using that to finance the Diaspora Legacy Programme’, read a FIFA statement. ‘SAFA instructed FIFA that the Diaspora Legacy Programme should be administered and implemented directly by the President of CONCACAF, who at that time was Deputy Chairman of the Finance Committee and who should act as the fiduciary of the Diaspora Legacy Programme Fund of US$10 million. The payments totalling US$10 million were authorised by the then Chairman of the Finance Committee and executed in accordance with the Organisation Regulations of FIFA. FIFA did not incur any costs as a result of South Africa’s request, because the funds belonged to the LOC. Both the LOC and SAFA adhered to the necessary formalities for the budgetary amendment. Neither the Secretary General, Jérôme Valcke, nor any other member of FIFA’s senior management were involved in the initiation, approval and implementation of the above project.’

However, a letter to Valcke from Molefi Oliphant, SAFA’s President at that time, appears to contradict FIFA’s position. In that letter, SAFA ‘requests that the Diaspora Legacy Programme be administered and implemented directly by the President of CONCACAF, who shall act as a fiduciary of the Fund’.

The letter from Oliphant to Valcke is dated 4 March 2008, after the Executive Committee had voted to approve South Africa as 2010 World Cup host. FIFA didn’t directly deny that the payment could have been made as a bribe to secure votes for South Africa’s bid to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup, however it did emphasise that the South African government had approved the $10 million project ‘to support the African diaspora in Caribbean countries as part of the World Cup legacy’ in 2007 – i.e. after South Africa had, in 2004, won the right to host the 2010 World Cup.

“How could we have paid a bribe for votes four years after we had won the bid?” SAFA President and head of the 2010 FIFA World Cup local organising committee Danny Jordaan told South Africa’s Sunday Independent. However, the DoJ indictment has an answer to that. ‘[Blazer] periodically asked Warner about the status of the $10 million payment’, it reads. ‘At one point, [Blazer] learned that the South Africans were unable to arrange for the payment to be made directly from government funds. Arrangements were thereafter made with FIFA officials to instead have the $10 million sent from FIFA – using funds that would otherwise have gone from FIFA to South Africa to support the World Cup – to CFU.’

‘In fact, on January 2, 2008, January 31, 2008 and March 7, 2008, a high-ranking FIFA official caused payments of $616,000, $1,600,000 and $7,784,000 – totalling $10 million – to be wired from a FIFA account in Switzerland to a Bank of America correspondent account in New York, New York, for credit accounts held in the names of CFU and CONCACAF, but controlled by the defendant Jack Warner, at Republic Bank in Trinidad and Tobago’, continued the DoJ indictment. The letter from Oliphant to Valcke appears to indicate that the DoJ’s version of events is exactly what did happen.

The Adjudicatory Chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee yesterday suspended a number of football executives for violating its Code of Ethics. ‘Following previous decisions and further clarification, and on the basis of investigations carried out by the investigatory chamber of the Ethics Committee and the latest facts presented by the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, the chairman of the Adjudicatory Chamber of the Ethics Committee, Hans-Joachim Eckert, today provisionally banned the official Enrique Sanz from carrying out any football-related activities at national and international level’, read a FIFA C issued yesterday. ‘The decision was taken at the request of the chairman of the investigatory chamber, Dr Cornel Borbély, based on art. 83 par.1 of the FIFA Code of Ethics’.

Eckert also issued a ban to two African football officials yesterday. ‘The Chairman of the Adjudicatory Chamber of the Ethics Committee, Hans-Joachim Eckert, today provisionally banned the Vice-President, Mr Jean Guy Blaise Mayolas, and the General Secretary, Mr Badji Mombo Wantete, of the Congolese Football Association (FECOFOOT) from carrying out any football-related activities at national and international level, in accordance with art. 83 par. 1 of the FIFA Code of Ethics’, read a FIFA statement. FIFA has been asked if the Ethics Committee will be investigating whether any action should be taken against Valcke in connection to the payments made to Warner in 2008.

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