Monday, 1 June 2015

So why were South Africa so keen to give Jack Warner $10m... and where did the "Africa Diaspora" cash REALLY go?

Nobel peace prize winners Desmond Tusu, FW de
Klerk and Nelson Mandela with FIFA president
Sepptic Blatter and then-president Thabo Mbeki
It is no longer a question of DID Jack Warner receive $10m before the 2010 World Cup, it is now a question of WHY.
The simple answer is: Because all four Confederation of African Football "pals" voted for South Africa's rivals Morocco in 2004. Which came as a bit of a surprise to our organising committee, who immediately felt the need to persuade the North Americans of CONCACAF to change their mind about voting for Africa's Arabic far northerners.
When Issa Hayatou, chairman of CAF, led his fellow African FIFA executives to the Morocco camp, panic spread through South Africans who expected a romp to victory after the Charles Dempsey disaster of 2000, which took the 2006 World Cup to Germany by the narrowest of margins.
Sepptic Blatter decreed that Africa would host the 2010 World Cup and South Africa - so successful at hosting the 1995 Rugby World Cup and 2003 Cricket World Cup - looked nailed on to win it. Libya's bid crumbled and they were denied a co-hosting deal with Tunisia. Egypt had no support but dark horses Morocco were being pushed by UEFA's Michel Platini and the USA, as a thank you for their anti-terrorism stance.
Jordaan, accused of "not understanding how FIFA works" when he lost the 2006 bid, immediately wheeled out the big guns - Nobel peace prize winners Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. He flew them off to Granada to meet with Jack Warner, then chairman of CONCACAF and the Caribbean Football Union. An agreement was forged. A deal was done. Smiles all round. And then the R120m question is: Was it a bribe or not a bribe?
As I first revealed on eTV Sunrise on Friday morning last week, the FIFA indictment explains exactly how and why the now-resigned CONCACAF president winkled 410m out of FIFA for backing South Africa as hosts, despite taking R1m from Morocco to do exactly the same.

Here’s the direct quote from the 160-page indictment – of which just SIX detail the South African problem. There are further details in the document showing a clear paper-trail and the involvement of TWO South Africans, co-conspirators 15 and 16.

“Co-conspirator 1 (believed to be former US FIFA official Chuck Blazer) learned from the defendant Jack Warner that high-ranking officials of FIFA, the South African government and the South African bid committee, including co-conspirator 16, were prepared to arrange for the government of South Africa to pay $10m to CFU (the Caribbean Football Union) to “support the African diaspora.”

Yes, that’s right. The "African diaspora" was used as the cloak to protect what amounted to a blatant bribe. When the money was paid – through FIFA rather than South Africa – Warner used it to pay back his Moroccan contact. Of that there is no doubt. In 2009, when Warner came to South Africa for the Confederations Cup warm-up, President Jacob Zuma told him he was a hero and beamed: "Our nation owes you an eternal debt of gratitude." My how those words must be regretted now.
But Warner got his money. South Africa had their World Cup. Eventually the cash was taken from the much-talked about FIFA World Cup Legacy Fund. Originally intended to amount to $100m, it ended up as $80m, with $10m going towards the building of SAFA house (plus a couple of now-missing buses and Mercedez) next to Soccer City, the other $10m going to pay Warner.

Last time SAFA president Danny Jordaan gave me a copy of that account, it amounted to just over R350m (about $38m these days) with no visible signs of grass roots development that I can find. He claims now that R65m of it will be used to fund a "SAFA Technical Centre" South of Johannesburg, but admits "there are paperwork problems".
That Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula initially laughed off the Warner payment as “a Hollywood movie” is remarkable. All he had to do was read the indictment. Or even ask Danny Jordaan and Irvin Khoza about the “African diaspora” scenario. By Monday, when I appeared on television again, Mbalula had changed his story. He admitted the payment had been made but insisted it was "a procedural matter.' The television company was warned to stop me talking about the FIFA story.
Mbalula – and several top South African football journalists – got stuck in to the US investigation for “disrespecting” South Africa, for demeaning our brilliant World Cup in 2010.
I understand that attitude. But they are missing the point. If Warner and Blazer had taken their three CONCACAF votes to Morroco, the Nelson Mandela dream of a World Cup in Africa may have been derailed. Unlikely, but in those jumpy days of 2004, after the “Dempsey abstention” had robbed us of the 2006 edition, we had to be sure. People were saying the Rainbow Nation had become a criminal nightmare, that violence would erupt. We had to bend the argument back to Madiba's dream. In the end, the vote went to South Africa, 14-10 over Morocco, with Egypt polling no votes.
So, brilliantly, we paid the money to help the “African diaspora” in  the Caribbean, apparently to help young people of African descent to play football in the West Indies. Bizarrely, no money from Africa’s first World Cup ever went to the Confederation of African football to help anybody.

But then, they didn't vote for us, not even our "mate" Ishmael Bhamjee from Botswana, who was wined and dined extensively by SAFA in the build-up to the vote. The brother of disgraced former PSL boss Abdul claimed afterwards he voted for South Africa in the secret ballot, but that was a cop out.
Now the FBI face the tough task of proving the $10m was in fact a bribe rather than a nice chunk of money offering Trinidad and Tobago MP Jack Warner – once the island nation’s Minister of Security – ten million opportunities to help the local footballers who could be traced back to the dark continent.
If that money was NOT used for the right purposes, surely SAFA have the right to demand it back?  $10m would pay neatly for that new Technical Centre  - not to mention the salary of our long-awaited Technical Director with Bafana Bafana suffering the Shakes right now.
As with the pre-World Cup match-fixing allegations, which led to the brief suspension of five SAFA officials two years ago, SAFA are closing ranks and denying alongside Mbalula, with Tokyo Sexwale, Molefi Olifant, Danny Jordaan and Dr Irvin Khoza all singing from the same song sheet. Among their number: the two "co-conspirators" named in the detailed US indictment. And, without question, the mystery men who dealt with master fixer Wilson Raj Perumal in the four friendlies so clearly "bent" before the 2010 World Cup.
But in effect the denials changed to excuses on Sunday, with Jordaan admitting to paying the Caribbean Football Union, through a CONCACAF account run by Warner, $10m, while the new Mayor of Nelson Mandela Bay insisted: “I haven’t paid a bribe or taken a bribe from anybody in my life.”
Jordaan is now so firmly embroiled in solving political corruption problems in Port Elizabeth, he didn't make the vote which reinstalled Blatter for a fifth term on Friday, a less than expected 133-73 victory over Jordan's Prince Ali.
Jordaan claimed he didn't travel to Switzerland to "cut costs" after warning his ANC councillors in NMB to make less overseas flights. In fact the ANC told him not to go. His Mayoral job is just too important to them. Clearly Jordaan cannot carry on his double life. What if he'd gone to Zurich and been questioned - not by the FBI but by local police - about how he cast his vote for Qatar 2022? Or if they'd asked him how much he got paid for his part in the 2010 World Cup? Enough to pay off the five houses he told me about a week ago?
I believe Jordaan did what he had to to bring the World Cup home for Madiba. He did what FIFA officials have done since Argentina 1978, when a disgusting military junta persuaded the world they were a suitable venue to fix 6-0 victories over Peru.
And I think the FBI will find it hard to prove the $10m was, indeed, a bribe. Mbalula, whose bizarre claims are actually hampering South Africa's defence, would be best served asking what happened to the money rather than denying it was paid.
The only question is: Did we pay Jack Warner to help Caribbean victims of the “African disapora” or not? Can anybody prove otherwise? Is it South Africa's fault he used $1m of it to pay back his Moroccan bribe? Of course not. The bloke has made a fortune from football before his resignation in 2011. So much so that he can now afford to tell Blatter he "shamed the game of football" (he also used the word "disgrace" when interviewed by the German magazine Stern yesterday).
What South Africa cannot afford is THIS: a series of silly denials and accusations from the Sports Minister Mbalula saying "America are trying to make us look corrupt". They aren't. Honestly. Nkandla, Marikana, the arms deal and so many other stories are doing that very effectively in the eyes of the rest of the world.
The Americans just want an explanation for Warner's payment. If they don' get it, we could find the investigation broadening in to a check on the match-fixing allegations - still not dealt with - the tenders for our World Cup stadia - don't ask Bobby Motaung - and post-World Cup bonuses.
And that could be a REAL problem. Best we just don't go there.

No comments:

Post a Comment