South Africa’s Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula has denied allegations that his country paid huge bribes to win the hosting right for the 2010 World Cup.
Following the dramatic arrest on Wednesday of seven FIFA executives over allegations of bribery and corruption, the US Attorney General Loretta Lynch accused the arrested executives of accepting bribes to help South Africa secure the 2010 World Cup.
The indictment added that former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner, took $10 million in bribes from the South African government over the 2010 World Cup.
FIFA has been engulfed in a bribery scandal that includes accusations from the US attorney general that FIFA officials took cash in return for awarding the tournament to South Africa.
The US indictment alleged that bundles of cash in a briefcase were handed over at a Paris hotel as a bribe by a “high-ranking South African bid committee official”.
But the South African sports minister said: “We as a government and people managing the resources of the South African people — we did not share part of your resources with criminals, I am saying it now and forever.
“The South African government and its people will not stand in any way of pursuing justice, criminality, fighting corruption in sport.”
Mbalula criticised how the US had made its allegations without consulting South Africa. “We are not and we have never acted in Hollywood and we are not used to these things,” he said. “Let us protect our sovereignty and national interest and fight corruption — but equally we must not allow to be abused… people seem to cast aspersions on our integrity.”
The South Africa Football Association on Wednesday dismissed the allegations as “baseless”. “We are disappointed at the baseless and untested allegations and request proof from anyone who has contrary evidence,” national football association spokesman Dominic Chimhavi said. “Our bid campaign was run by, among others, late president Nelson Mandela, former president Thabo Mbeki and several government ministers, who are men of integrity.”