Pretoria: The South African government and the Department of Sport and Recreation did not pay any money to secure the rights to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup, says Sport and Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalula.
This after allegations stemming from the indictment by the Attorney General of the United States of South Africa that the government of South Africa or its officials have paid a bribe of $10 million to secure the rights to host the soccer spectacle.
“No such amount was paid by the Department of Sport and Recreation and the government of South Africa,” Minister Mbalula said on Thursday during a media briefing.
The department indicated that all funding by the South African government was transferred via the National Treasury to the Department of Sport and Recreation.
The Minister said that financial records for the 2010-11 financial years and those before and after the period of the soccer tournament have been audited by the Auditor General and that no such amount has been found on the books.
The funds transferred to the Local Organising Committee (LOC) were also accounted for. He said that at the close of the books of the LOC, government received the close out report, including audited financial statements by auditing and accounting firm Ernst and Young.
The financial statements were unqualified and the audit opinion fairly represented the financial position and compliance with the accounting policies of the LOC.
“On this basis, the department and government duly accepted the close out report of the LOC and submitted the same to National Treasury as is expected in South African law,” he said.
In the interest of transparency, government also finalised its own close out report which was approved by Cabinet and released to the public in 2012.
The Minister said the department has noted with keen interest the allegations from the Attorney General of the United States and will follow the investigation.
Additionally, the department will approach the Department of International Relations and Cooperation to request through the diplomatic channels existing between the two nations a copy of the indictment to establish the basis on which the allegations are being made. Minister Mbalula further added that the allegations has a potential of tarnishing the name and people of South Africa globally and put into question the competence of the country in organising mega events.
“As this is a matter of national importance, we call on all those who were involved in the process of bidding and execution of the 2010 World Cup to desist from making statements and to afford the national government through the ministry and Department of Sport and Recreation to handle this matter through the diplomatic channels,” said the Minister.
He further added that after a copy of the indictment was received “we will pronounce further after carefully studying it”.
On the issue of whether government has been in talks with the then Chairperson of the LOC and President of the South African Football Association (SAFA) Jack Warner, who is one of the people indicted in the US on corruption charges involving FIFA, the Minister said that government is in touch with Jordaan but not specifically on this matter because this was the FIFA week in terms of the congress which is happening this week.
“We’ve got no obligation or anything of that sort or any business to do with Jack Warner and as such that we could be in touch with him at all times we’ve not transferred any money to any individual of that sort such that our government states very clear that our engagement with the FIFA World Cup with regard to our finances guided by the prescripts of our financial system,” said the Minister.
He further added that to say that government is involved in the transfer of money is a matter that is not taken lightly.
“All what we’ve seen is what we’ve seen in the wires and newspapers we are not in any way involved as government in the transfer of any illegal money for the processes of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.”
Minister Mbalula in response to a question on whether the allegations would affect Durban’s bid to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games, said this would not affect the bid.
“Our bid for the Commonwealth is not affected. All what is out there is speculation,” he said.
Earlier today, at a post Cabinet media briefing, Minister in the Presidency responsible for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, Jeff Radebe, said that FIFA President Sepp Blatter gave South Africa, “I think 8 or 9 out of ten” for hosting the soccer spectacle.
SOURCE: SOUTH AFRICAN OFFICIAL NEWS