A 2007 email reveals FIFA president Sepp Blatter and then-South African president Thabo Mbeki held “discussions” regarding a $10 million payment that allegedly went to corrupt FIFA soccer and marketing executives as payback for supporting the country’s 2010 World Cup bid, the South African Sunday Times newspaper reported on Sunday.
The email, which was not published, was reportedly sent by FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke to the South African government on Dec. 7, 2007. It asks when the $10 million will be transferred “based on discussions between FIFA and the South African government, and also between our President (Blatter) and President Thabo Mbeki.”
Valcke’s email also refers to the $10 million as a commitment “to the legacy programme for the diaspora and specifically the Caribbean countries” stemming from talks between Blatter and Mbeki, who left office in 2008.
On June 1, one day before Blatter resigned as FIFA president despite his reelection to a fifth term, a report by The New York Times implicated Valcke in the $10 million payment. The Times cited several law enforcement officials who said Valcke, Blatter’s top deputy, was the unidentified “high-ranking FIFA official” who U.S. prosecutors said transferred $10 million in 2008 from FIFA to accounts controlled by former FIFA vice president and CONCACAF president Jack Warner.
FIFA later said Valcke was not involved in the $10 million payment despite a letter that surfaced on June 2 appearing to implicate him directly. That letter, dated March 4, 2008, is addressed to Valcke by then-South African Football Association president Molefi Oliphant. It asked FIFA to take $10 million off South Africa’s World Cup budget and send it to Warner.
Warner was among the nine FIFA officials indicted by the U.S. Justice Department last month on charges including racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies. He has continually asserted his innocence.
On Thursday, former Egypt sports minister Aley Eddine Helal appeared on Cairo television and accused Warner of demanding a $7 million bribe to vote for Egypt in the bidding process for the 2010 World Cup.
South Africa won the right to host the World Cup by defeating Morocco 14–10 in a vote of FIFA’s ruling panel of executives in Zurich in 2004. Egypt did not a receive a vote.
- Mike Fiammetta