JOHANNESBURG — A South African newspaper on Friday published a 2007 letter linking the country’s chief World Cup organizer to a $10 million payment made to projects linked to Jack Warner, then a FIFA executive and now a suspect in a corruption probe.
In the letter published by the Mail and Guardian newspaper, Danny Jordaan, then-head of South Africa’s World Cup organizing committee, says the money should be paid by FIFA, not the South African government. U.S. investigators have accused unnamed South African officials of channeling $10 million through FIFA to Warner as a bribe for backing the country’s successful World Cup bid.
The letter is addressed to FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke, with the subject line “US$10.0m promised by the South African government,” and printed on a letterhead with the branding of the 2010 World Cup.
“Dear Jerome, Dear Friend,” Jordaan wrote, “I want to suggest that FIFA deducts this amount (US$10.0m) from the LOC’s (Local Organizing Committee) future operational budget and deals directly with the Diaspora legacy support programme.”
The South African government has described the legacy program as projects aimed at developing soccer in countries recognized as the African diaspora, which includes Caribbean nations.
Jordaan tells Valcke that he has discussed the payment with then-South African Deputy Minister of Finance Jabulani Moleketi and then-Minister of Foreign Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
Jordaan, who is president of the South African Football Association and now mayor of the city of Port Elizabeth, could not be reached for comment. Moleketi, who is no longer in government, referred The Associated Press to the South African sports ministry. Dlamini-Zuma is now the chairwoman of the African Union Commission.
South African Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula has acknowledged the existence of Jordaan’s letter but says South Africa was not involved in bribery.
“We reject the Mail and Guardian article that frames an honest correspondence between SAFA and FIFA,” Mbalula said in a statement.
The letter is part of communication that proved that South Africa donated funds to development projects in the Caribbean, Mbalula said.
In another letter published this week, former South African Football Association President Molefi Oliphant wrote to Valcke in March 2008 asking FIFA to withhold $10 million from the budget of the 2010 World Cup organizers and to use the money to finance a “Diaspora Legacy Programme” under the control of Warner, then CONCACAF president.
Lynsey Chutel, The Associated Press