From the news desk

SA reactions to Fifa scandal

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Very few members of the Soccer World Cup 2010 Local Organising Committee were responding to calls and messages on Thursday following allegations that two high-ranking South African football and government officials had offered cash for votes in order to secure that the tournament be held in South Africa.

A US indictment accused the two officials, named as conspirator #15 and #16, of bribing Jack Warner on two occasions – the amounts totalling $10m.

The identities of the two the co-conspirators have not been revealed, as no arrests have been made, but speculation continues to grow.The SA Police Services said there were no pending arrests in South Africa.

There were 32 members in the committee, which was disbanded in 2011 and transferred all outstanding activities to the SA Football Association (Safa).

News24 spoke to a handful of the LOC members who were answering their phones. Some of the members were said to be in Zurich.

Zwelinzima Vavi: “I was extremely disappointed if that was to be true. I would have thought that [we had] all the advantages on our side to win the bid without paying a cent for it.

We had the best infrastructure, we had a proven record in terms of hosting other world events… we had Nelson Mandela on our side who the world was so keen to give him something until he sleeps in peace.

We had a respected government… under the towering intellectual in Thabo Mbeki who was highly respected in the African continent. We had three Nobel Peace Prize winners… bidding and lobbying for us.

Why was it necessary to bribe unless the system itself was so rotten? I am very suspicious about American investigations. Why two days before the election congress, why America and not Interpol… I’m just nervous about that.”

Mansoor Parker: “I was appointed as the company’s secretary and I cannot comment without the authority to do so. We are about to be de-registered.”

Essop Pahad: “I have nothing to say – it’s all allegations until they bring substantial proof.”

Anastasia Tsichlas: “We delivered the best World Cup. We are very very proud of what we did as South Africa. That is all I have to say.”

Jeff Radebe at a Cabinet briefing: “As far as we are concerned, as members of the local organising committee, there was a clean audit report and there was never any suggestion that anything untoward happened in South Africa.”

Danny Jordaan at a briefing following his swearing in as Nelson Mandela Bay mayor: “Listen, I’m saying this is not the forum, the minister of sport will be issuing a press statement, so once the statement has been issued you will have a better understanding of what you are talking about.”

Some of the tournaments sponsors also responded to the allegations. First National Bank spokesperson Virginia Magapatona told News24 that FNB was the official national supporter of the 2010 Fifa World Cup. She said FNB will continue to monitor the developments and the outcome of the investigation.

Coca Cola said in a statement: “This lengthy controversy has tarnished the mission and ideals of the Fifa World Cup and we have repeatedly expressed our concerns about these serious allegations. We expect Fifa to continue to address these issues thoroughly. Fifa has stated that it is responding to all requests for information and we are confident it will continue to cooperate fully with the authorities.”

Visa said in a statement: “Our disappointment and concern with Fifa in light of today’s developments is profound. As a sponsor, we expect Fifa to take swift and immediate steps to address these issues within its organisation… Our sponsorship has always focused on supporting the teams, enabling a great fan experience, and inspiring communities to come together and celebrate the spirit of competition and personal achievement – and it is important that Fifa makes changes now, so that the focus remain on these going forward. Should Fifa fail to do so, we have informed them that we will reassess our sponsorship.”

McDonalds said in its statement to AFP: “McDonald’s takes matters of ethics and corruption very seriously and the news from the US Department of Justice is extremely concerning. We are in contact with Fifa on this matter. We will continue to monitor the situation very closely.”

Adidas said in a statement to AFP: “The Adidas Group is fully committed to creating a culture that promotes the highest standards of ethics and compliance, and we expect the same from our partners. Following… [the] news, we can therefore only encourage Fifa to continue to establish and follow transparent compliance standards in everything they do. Adidas is the world’s leading football brand and we will continue to support football on all levels.” News24

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