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  • on 31.05.2015
  • at 08:00 AM
  • by Kevin Hind

The day FIFA stole a part of us 0

On Wednesday morning, the unthinkable happened. The top brass of FIFA, although not the king himself, were arrested. In Zurich, of all places – where those who are rich and seek sanctuary usually get it. All through the day, developments kept coming: this vice-President of FIFA was among those arrested, the decisions to take the World Cup to the Arctic in 2018 and then the desert in 2022 were being probed for bribery allocations. And then, the bombshell.

The Americans believe that the 2010 Football World Cup was only held here because money changed hands. Ruddy great wads of it. In a world where sport has been cheapened, all of us have been ripped off. And one of the people who suffered the most in the process was a man who had already suffered too much – Madiba himself. By Stephen Grootes.

American lawyers, unlike our own, are fond of a big press conference, preferably live on TV. When the indictment came, acting US Attorney General Kelly Currie used a combination of legal-speak and media-friendly English.

“Other parts of FIFA are implicated as well, as the attorney general mentioned; the World Cup 2010 selection bribery scheme, which is described in the indictment, alleges that in connection with a selection of South Africa, to host the 2010 World Cup. There were bribes paid in connection with that scheme.”

To go further into the documents, it appears that our officials reached an agreement with one Jack Warner, who headed the FIFA regional organisation CONCACAF, and we needed his vote. That cost, according to the document, $10 million. Or around a hundred million rand. But there was a problem: the money could not, for some reason, simply be handed over. And so it appears that money FIFA agreed to pay us for the tournament was routed to an account with the name of his federation, but controlled by him personally. From there, a relative of his took care of the rest.

That little detail is likely to make it much harder for anyone to pin anything on anyone here. The first name one thinks of when thinking of that tournament is Danny Jordaan. Who can forget his face back in 2000 when FIFA, to its eternal shame, decided the 2006 World Cup should go to Germany and not South Africa? (The Nigerian cab driver who took me home from work in London that night could not discuss anything else; he was spitting mad.) And who can forget Jordaan when we finally won the right to host the tournament? He was the closest we had to a national hero for a while.

And now, five years after the tournament, his reputation, his dignity, his very being, is going to be sullied by this. There will be many who say he deserved better. Perhaps so. Perhaps he found himself in a situation where he really had no option. Perhaps he can put his hand on his heart and say to the nation: Look, we really, really, really wanted that tournament, there was no other way for me to make it happen, and in the end, it was the right thing to do.

That’s the problem with bribery; it can almost be justified. But it is always wrong: in the end, you usually get found out, and it’s usually not worth the money.

Continue reading on the Daily Maverick

by Stephen Grootes

Photo Credit: Flickr/Sheree Zielke

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