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FIFA: South African football association reject bribery claims by FIFA executive committee member

The South African Football Association (SAFA) has denied claims from FIFA executive committee member Chuck Blazer that it issued bribes to win the vote to host the 2010 World Cup.

Whistleblower Chuck Blazer has said he and others took bribes totalling US$10million for South Africa to host the 2010 World Cup and an undisclosed sum for Morocco's unsuccessful bid to host the 1998 tournament.

The revelation is contained in a plea bargain published by the US Department of Justice.

SAFA is angered by the reports and believes they tarnish both the reputation of the organisation and some of the country's most prominent personalities.

"We categorically deny that this was a bribe in return for a vote," the statement read. "It belittles the hard work done by Madiba (Nelson Mandela), Archbishop Tutu, the South African Government and numerous others who sacrificed their time and money and family lives to make our country proud! It tarnishes their images in the most unscrupulous manner."

The South African Football Association sent a letter - obtained by Press Association Sport - in 2008 to FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke saying that US$10million should be administered directly by former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner, who is currently on bail in Trinidad pending extradition to the United States.

The money was intended to support football in the Caribbean, SAFA said.

The BBC has alleged that Warner used some of the funds for credit card payments and personal loans and that JTA Supermarkets, a large chain in Trinidad, received US$4.86million from the accounts.

Warner has denied any wrongdoing.

In the three transactions - on 4 January, 1 February and 10 March 2008 - funds totalling US$10million (£6.5million on current exchange rates) from FIFA accounts were received into CONCACAF accounts controlled by Warner.

Trinidad and Tobago sports minister Brent Sancho told the BBC: "He (Warner) must face justice, he must answer all of these questions. Justice has to be served.

"He will have to account, with this investigation, he will have to answer for his actions."

On Wednesday, South Africa's sports minister Fikile Mbalula told a press conference that authorities did not know what had happened to the money.

He said: ''We don't know. We can't account for it. The fact that later they turned gangsters, that is not our problem. We were not sniffer dogs to check everybody's legitimacy.''

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