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South Africa officials again deny bribe allegations

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South Africa Minister of Sports Fikile Mbalula has denied any wrongdoing over winning the rights to host the 2010 World Cup.

South African Minister of Sports and Recreation Fikile Mbalula has reiterated his stance that his country did not offer bribes in order to secure votes during the bidding process for the 2010 World Cup.

The FIFA corruption scandal broke last week in which it was alleged that former CONCACAF president Jack Warner received a $10m payment from South Africa in order to help deliver the World Cup in 2010.

South African officials issued a strong rebuttal of that in a statement shortly afterwards and Mbalula has repeated that at a press conference in Johannesburg.

He said: "We wish to reiterate the key thrusts of our statement and confirm that we will stand by what we said in this statement."

Mbalula said the $10 million that US authorities allege was a bribe paid to host the 2010 World Cup was a fully-approved payment to support football among the "African diaspora" in the Caribbean.

"The fact that a payment of $10 million was made to an approved programme above board does not equate to bribery," he said. "Those who allege should prove their allegations.

"We frown upon the allegations that suggest South Africa has paid a bribe. Payment made for approved projects can never be construed as bribery. Any insinuation to the contrary will be met with a rebuke."

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Former FIFA vice-president Warner is one of 14 officials and businessmen indicted in the U.S. fraud investigation that has engulfed global football.

South Africa's sports ministry director general Alec Moemi, also at the news conference, said: "We gave the money unconditionally. Jack Warner was the leader of CONCACAF and the Caribbean Football Union, and a man of good standing."

Mbalula insisted South African officials had conducted a "clean" bid campaign before the 2010 World Cup.

He added: "We still need the US authorities to share with us the basis for their allegations. Those who allege should prove their allegations. We refuse to be caught up in a battle between the US authorities and FIFA. We do not intend to speak for FIFA - FIFA must speak for itself.

"We refuse to be caught up in a battle between the United States and FIFA. We won the bid clean, we had the spirit of (late former president Nelson) Mandela, we had the spirit of the world. But we are not on the defensive. It is our responsibility to explain what this $10 million was for."

Mbalula also continued to show support for Sepp Blatter who announced his intention to step down as FIFA president yesterday.

He said: "Sepp Blatter has been a good friend of South Africa. We will not lie about it. He played a major role in terms of shifting the world to focus on Africa in relation to the hosting the World Cup for the first time and he's the president of FIFA who delivered that. History will remember him for that. 

"That's how we will remember Sepp. As for other conflicts after, it's for the British and the Americans to fight their battles and we are not part of the vested interest and we will never be part of the vested interest. We have fought colonialism and defeated it."

World Cup 2010 organising committee members had been expected to appear at the news conference, but they did not turn up. That means organising committee chairman Irvin Khoza and high profile chief executive officer Danny Jordaan have yet to address the allegations publicly.

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