Email con­nects Blat­ter to US$10 mil.: re­port

The China Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY GERALD IM­RAY

A 2007 email shows FIFA Pres­i­dent Sepp Blat­ter and then-South African Pres­i­dent Thabo Mbeki held “dis­cus­sions” over US$10 mil­lion that ul­ti­mately went to al­legedly cor­rupt soc­cer ex­ec­u­tives as pay­back for sup­port­ing the coun­try’s World Cup bid, a news­pa­per claimed Sun­day.

South Africa’s Sun­day Times re­ported that the email from FIFA sec­re­tary gen­eral Jerome Val­cke to the South African gov­ern­ment asks when the US$10 mil­lion will be trans­ferred.

The news­pa­per said that in the email, which was not pub­lished, Val­cke wrote that the US$10 mil­lion was “based on dis­cus­sions be­tween FIFA and the South African gov­ern­ment, and also be­tween our Pres­i­dent (Blat­ter) and Pres­i­dent Thabo Mbeki.”

Amer­i­can in­ves­ti­ga­tors al­leged in their in­dict­ment into cor­rup­tion in world soc­cer that the US$10 mil­lion went to Jack Warner, who is cur­rently un­der ar­rest, as pay­back for him and two other se­nior FIFA ex­ec­u­tives vot­ing for South Africa to host the 2010 World Cup.

FIFA and the South African gov­ern­ment have said it was money given le­git­i­mately by South Africa to help soc­cer devel­op­ment in Warner’s Caribbean re­gion. Mbeki’s of­fice de­nied any in­volve­ment in bribes in a state­ment when the FIFA cor­rup­tion scan­dal broke.

How­ever, the South African money ended up go­ing di­rectly to for­mer FIFA vice pres­i­dent Warner of Trinidad and Amer­i­can Chuck Blazer, both for­mer mem­bers of FIFA’s ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee. Blazer has ad­mit­ted to re­ceiv­ing bribes in con­nec­tion with the 2004 vote that re­sulted in South Africa be­com­ing the first African na­tion to host the World Cup.

Warner is one of 14 soc­cer and mar­ket­ing of­fi­cials in­dicted and un­der ar­rest on cor­rup­tion charges, which in­clude rack­e­teer­ing, bribery and money laun­der­ing.

Blat­ter quit as FIFA pres­i­dent last week with the world soc­cer body rocked by the big­gest scan­dal in its 111-year his­tory. The 79-year-old Blat­ter has not been specif­i­cally im­pli­cated in the Jus­tice Depart­ment in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

In Val­cke’s email, which is dated Dec. 7, 2007, ac­cord­ing to the Sun­day Times, he refers to the US$10 mil­lion as a com­mit­ment “to the le­gacy pro­gramme for the di­as­pora and specif­i­cally the Caribbean coun­tries” and says it stems from talks be­tween Blat­ter and Mbeki, who was pres­i­dent at the time of South Africa’s suc­cess­ful World Cup bid. He left of­fice in 2008.

Val­cke’s email pre-dates cor­re­spon­dence from then-chief South African World Cup or­ga­nizer Danny Jor­daan and then-South African Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Molefi Oliphant ask­ing FIFA to shave US$10 mil­lion off South Africa’s World Cup bud­get to send to Warner. In Oliphant’s let­ter, he twice asks for the US$10 mil­lion to be con­trolled specif­i­cally by Warner.

South Africa won the World Cup by beat­ing Morocco 14-10 in a vote of FIFA’s rul­ing panel of ex­ec­u­tives in Zurich in 2004. The U.S. DOJ al­leges that vote was com­pletely cor­rupted, with Warner, Blazer and an un­named South Amer­i­can of­fi­cial agree­ing to take bribes to back South Africa. Morocco also at­tempted to bribe Warner, the DOJ al­leged in its in­dict­ment doc­u­ments.

AP

This im­age made avail­able by Kens­ing­ton Palace Satur­day, June 6, taken by Her Royal High­ness Kate, Duchess of Cam­bridge, at An­mer Hall, eastern Eng­land in mid-May shows HRH Princess Char­lotte of Cam­bridge, right, be­ing held by her brother, 2-year-old, HRH Prince Ge­orge of Cam­bridge. The UK’s roy­als have been pho­tographed by some of the world’s lead­ing pho­tog­ra­phers. But Prince Wil­liam and Kate are con­tin­u­ing a more in­for­mal tra­di­tion be­gun two years ago with the first of­fi­cial por­trait of Prince Ge­orge, taken by his grand­fa­ther Michael Mid­dle­ton. Princess Char­lotte was born May 2 and is fourth in line to the thrones of 16 coun­tries.

AP

Ire­land soc­cer sup­port­ers pose for pho­to­graphs with a card­board cut-out of FIFA Pres­i­dent Sepp Blat­ter, out­side the Aviva sta­dium, prior to the start of the in­ter­na­tional friendly soc­cer match be­tween Ire­land and Eng­land, in Dublin, Repub­lic of Ire­land on Sun­day, June 7.

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