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SA police to probe World Cup bribery

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Former South Africa President, Thabo Mbeki (l) and FIFA President Sepp Blatter at a South Africa 2010 World Cup briefing

Former South Africa President, Thabo Mbeki (l) and FIFA President Sepp Blatter at a South Africa 2010 World Cup briefing

JOHANNESBURG, September 22- South African police are expected to launch criminal investigations into two senior football officials in connection with the 2010 World Cup, following a request from the main opposition party, officials said.

The probe is linked to an alleged bribe paid to secure the rights to host the World Cup.

The Democratic Alliance on Monday laid corruption charges against the South African Football Association (SAFA) president Danny Jordaan and his predecessor Molefi Oliphant.

The charges arise from two letters, one written by Jordaan, who was in charge of the country’s World Cup bid chief, to FIFA about South Africa’s plan to donate funds to a Caribbean football development programme, and another by Molefi, who was SAFA chief at the time.

South Africa then paid $10 million (8.9 million euros) through FIFA into an account controlled by Jack Warner, a disgraced former FIFA vice president from the Caribbean accused by US authorities for accepting bribes.

US investigators believe the money was a bribe to secure South Africa’s selection as host of the 2010 competition.

“We laid charges of corruption and fraud against the two individuals relating to their complicity in the $10 million that were meant for South Africa but were actually redirected to CONCACAF,” DA lawmaker Solomon Malatsi told AFP, referring to football’s governing body in North America, Central America and the Caribbean.

At the time, Warner was CONCACAF president.

Police “can now begin to initiate a criminal investigation that will help clear the cloud over this matter,” he said.

In the 14-page affidavit filed with the police in Cape Town, Malatsi said it “appears that Jordaan and Oliphant were complicit with, and indeed seemingly central to the bribery scheme.”

South African government and national football officials have strenuously denied accusations that they paid a bribe to secure the right to host the first such tournament on the continent.

Authorities insist the $10 million payment was an honest donation to support football among the “African diaspora” in the Caribbean.

Malatsi said the DA was forced to turn to the courts after attempts to summon football officials to parliament were thwarted by the ruling African National Congress.

Accusations of bribery to win the World Cup triggered an angry response in South Africa, where the event is remembered as a moment of national pride.

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