Oliphant: Danny be­trayed me

For­mer Safa pres­i­dent says when he met Jor­daan last Sun­day to dis­cuss a let­ter ask­ing for $10m to be paid to the Caribbean, Jor­daan failed to ad­mit he had writ­ten it, along with an ear­lier one

CityPress - - Front Page - TI­MOTHY MOLOBI voices@city­press.co.za – Ad­di­tional re­port­ing by Xolani Mban­jwa

The bribery scan­dal rocking world foot­ball gov­ern­ing body Fifa has now pit­ted for­mer Safa boss Molefi Oliphant against cur­rent Safa pres­i­dent Danny Jor­daan.

Oliphant, who was the pres­i­dent of South Africa’s soc­cer gov­ern­ing body when the na­tion won the rights to host the 2010 World Cup, this week ac­cused Jor­daan of be­tray­ing him.

He said he was “shocked and felt be­trayed” af­ter re­al­is­ing Jor­daan had failed to dis­close the ex­is­tence of a 2007 let­ter Jor­daan had writ­ten to Fifa re­quest­ing that pay­ments be made to the Con­fed­er­a­tion of North, Cen­tral Amer­ica and Caribbean As­so­ci­a­tion Foot­ball (Con­ca­caf ).

Oliphant said Jor­daan, who had been CEO of the lo­cal or­gan­is­ing com­mit­tee (LOC) of the 2010 tour­na­ment, had told him noth­ing about the let­ter when they dis­cussed the mat­ter at a meet­ing last Sun­day in a ho­tel near OR Tambo In­ter­na­tional Air­port. At the time, only a let­ter bear­ing Oliphant’s name and sig­na­ture was in the public domain, fu­elling spec­u­la­tion that he was the per­son be­hind the al­leged bribe to Con­ca­caf.

The $10 mil­lion pay­ment, os­ten­si­bly for the devel­op­ment of soc­cer in the African di­as­pora, but which mostly ended up in the pock­ets of then Con­ca­caf boss Jack Warner, is al­leged by the FBI as hav­ing been a bribe to se­cure votes for host­ing the 2010 World Cup.

Oliphant said for­mer lo­cal or­gan­is­ing com­mit­tee mem­bers and cur­rent Safa bosses met twice last Sun­day, af­ter the news broke world­wide, to dis­cuss the is­sue around the coun­try host­ing the World Cup.

“I was shocked, dis­ap­pointed, sad­dened and felt be­trayed be­cause there was no dis­clo­sure,” said Oliphant, re­fer­ring to the let­ter Jor­daan wrote to Fifa on De­cem­ber 10 2007. At the time of the meet­ing, only the let­ter signed by Oliphant in March 2008 had leaked to the me­dia. In the let­ter, Oliphant re­quested Fifa to di­rect part of the fu­ture op­er­at­ing bud­get of South Africa’s lo­cal or­gan­is­ing com­mit­tee to Warner’s fed­er­a­tion.

Days later, Jor­daan’s ear­lier let­ter was leaked – car­ry­ing re­quests to Fifa that were sim­i­lar to those con­tained in the let­ter Oliphant signed four months later.

“We met twice on Satur­day and Sun­day dis­cussing this let­ter [the one I signed] and there was no dis­clo­sure from [ Jor­daan] that a let­ter was writ­ten on De­cem­ber 10 2007. And if you look at both of them, their con­tents are the same, in­clud­ing the lan­guage used, and this sim­ply means they were writ­ten by the same per­son. I signed it be­cause it was given to me by the per­son I have worked with for more than two decades. It is all about dis­clo­sure,” Oliphant said.

He fur­ther said: “What is sur­pris­ing is, af­ter I signed the let­ter on March 4 2008, I found out that the CEO of the LOC wrote a let­ter on De­cem­ber 10 2007 that Fifa should deduct $10 mil­lion from a fu­ture LOC op­er­a­tional bud­get that dealt di­rectly with the di­as­pora project. I was shocked to see that let­ter – a copy of which I have. I can con­fi­dently say this let­ter was drafted by him for me to sign, be­cause the lan­guage is the same. I did it in good faith, hav­ing con­fi­dence and trust in the CEO.”

Yes­ter­day, Jor­daan, through Safa spokesper­son Do­minic Chimhavi, evaded di­rect ques­tions and re­it­er­ated the of­fi­cial gov­ern­ment po­si­tion.

“Re­gard­less of the state­ment, it does not change the fact that the African di­as­pora pro­gramme was a gen­uine and le­git­i­mate pro­gramme, as the min­is­ter of sport, Fik­ile Mbalula, stated this week. We re­ject with the contempt it de­serves any as­ser­tion to the con­trary. Any­one who says any­thing to the con­trary – those mat­ters will be dealt with in the as­so­ci­a­tion struc­tures.”

What the emer­gence of Jor­daan’s De­cem­ber 2007 let­ter in­di­cates is that Fifa made two pay­ments to the African di­as­pora pro­gramme af­ter re­ceiv­ing the re­quests. Those were made on Jan­uary 2 2008 ($616 000) and Jan­uary 28 ($1.6 mil­lion). Fifa made the fi­nal pay­ment of $7.7 mil­lion three days af­ter Oliphant’s March 2008 let­ter.

In the let­ter, Jor­daan also said that then deputy fi­nance min­is­ter Jabu Moleketi had rec­om­mended the money for the Di­as­pora Le­gacy Project be paid over to Fifa. He also said he had spo­ken to then for­eign af­fairs min­is­ter and cur­rent African Union com­mis­sion chair­per­son Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who had wanted the funds to rather be paid to the LOC.

Be­fore Jor­daan’s let­ter be­came public, Moleketi, who chaired the LOC’s fi­nance com­mit­tee, said the LOC was only con­sti­tuted af­ter the bid­ding process and was “un­aware of any­thing that had hap­pened that could tar­nish the im­age of the World Cup”.

“But once in­sti­tu­tions like the US jus­tice depart­ment start an in­ves­ti­ga­tion it would be im­por­tant for South Africa to say noth­ing un­to­ward hap­pened and we wel­come any in­ves­ti­ga­tion that seeks to deal with any form of cor­rup­tion,” he said.

But yes­ter­day, when called about the let­ter from Jor­daan, Moleketi said: “If you’re go­ing to ask about the Fifa stuff, I will re­fer you to Min­is­ter Mbalula’s of­fice. Thank you.”

Jor­daan’s let­ter has brought into ques­tion what gov­ern­ment re­ally knows about the al­leged bribe paid to the Caribbeans.

For­mer pres­i­dent Thabo Mbeki has said: “The gov­ern­ment that I had the priv­i­lege to lead would never have paid any bribe, even if it were so­licited.”

For­mer deputy for­eign min­is­ter Sue van der Merwe, who formed part of the LOC, said: “I am com­pletely un­aware of any­thing that took place in the bid­ding process led by Jor­daan and chair­per­son Irvin Khoza. As the LOC, we sim­ply worked to­gether to make the World Cup hap­pen once it had been awarded to us. I think the ar­rests and al­le­ga­tions of bribery are ab­so­lutely tragic be­cause soc­cer is such a global sport and it’s im­por­tant to so many na­tions. It was a shin­ing mo­ment for the coun­try and we did our best.”

This lat­est twist comes in a week dur­ing which it also emerged that the bid for the 2006 World Cup, which South Africa lost to Ger­many, could have been wrong­fully in­flu­enced af­ter a Ger­man news­pa­per ex­posed al­le­ga­tions of how Ger­many fa­cil­i­tated an arms deal in re­turn for Saudi Ara­bia’s vote.

Ger­man news­pa­per Die Zeit re­ported this week that then chan­cel­lor Ger­hard Schröder had sup­plied arms to Saudi Ara­bia in ex­change for World Cup bid sup­port. Ger­many beat South Africa by 12 votes to 11 in the fi­nal round af­ter New Zealan­der Charles Dempsey con­tro­ver­sially ab­stained. Saudi Ara­bia’s vote went to Ger­many.

The news­pa­per re­ported that the Ger­man gov­ern­ment lifted arms re­stric­tions a few days be­fore the vote to al­low a ship­ment of arms to the Mid­dle Eastern coun­try.

’’I was shocked, dis­ap­pointed, sad­dened and felt be­trayed be­cause there was no dis­clo­sure

MOLEFI OLIPHANT

PHOTO: GAVIN BARKER / GALLO IMAGES

HAP­PIER DAYS Then Safa pres­i­dent Molefi Oliphant (left) is con­grat­u­lated by then Safa CEO Danny Jor­daan af­ter Oliphant was elected to the CAF ex­ec­u­tive dur­ing the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s congress in Ba­mako, Mali, in 2002

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