Safa president Danny Jordaan made a snap decision on Thursday to cancel his flight to Zurich that evening to vote in the Fifa presidential election.
Jordaan made the decision a day after nine Fifa officials were arrested in Zurich on charges of corruption.
Jordaan told City Press yesterday his decision had nothing to do with the case driven by the US and everything to do with his new job as Nelson Mandela Bay mayor.
“In my acceptance speech in [the mayoral] induction, I spoke about overseas travel and said we’re going to cut out overseas travel,” he said. “And when I left, that is something that was on my mind – and if I say we have to do this and I am the first one to fly overseas, it would be a serious challenge for me.”
Jordaan said it did not matter that Safa would have paid for his air ticket – it was all about perception.
“It is the act; you are going to be seen to be inconsistent between your actions and your words, and so I said: ‘No, it is my first day, my first induction; I must be true to my words.’”
Jordaan strongly denied that his decision not to go to Zurich was linked to any possible arrest.
“No, no, no,” he said.
“My name is not mentioned anywhere [in the Fifa indictment]; I’m not anywhere. Now to go from not even being mentioned to talk about arrest is just … I don’t think any South African would accept this in the country, that your name is not mentioned and the police just arrive and arrest you. Where do you find such a thing?”
Jordaan spoke after massive speculation that surrounded the identities of “co-conspirators #15 and #16” after the US department of justice implicated two South Africans in the Fifa corruption scandal.
The 164-page indictment does not name them, but merely refers to them both as “high-ranking official[s] of the 2006 South Africa World Cup bid committee and the 2010 South Africa World Cup bid committee and local organising committee”.
Through a frenzied process of elimination, speculation has centred on three senior South African soccer officials. News24 reported on Friday that it appeared the only officials who had served on both bid committees were Jordaan, Orlando Pirates chairperson Irvin Khoza and then human settlements minister Tokyo Sexwale. Khoza and Sexwale could not be reached for comment this week.
In a statement released yesterday, Jordaan denied any wrongdoing on behalf of the 2010 World Cup local organising committee, saying they “received a clean financial audit”.
“During my tenure as CEO ... I could authorise payments of a maximum of R2.5 million.”
In the statement, he quoted a letter from Fifa deputy secretary-general Markus Kattner, saying: “For the avoidance of doubt, Fifa has at no time been aware of anything other than full compliance with the governance structure of the local organising committee in respect of all local organising committee transactions.”
Jordaan went on to say: “We want to reiterate that we have noted the allegations covered in the media. We would like to dismiss it on behalf of the 2010 Fifa World Cup organising committee in South Africa.”
A US legal expert told City Press on Friday that, despite the allegations contained in the indictment, co-conspirators #15 and #16 may not be charged, at least in this indictment, because the crimes they were alleged to have committed happened outside the US (see the highlights of the indictment).
This included an alleged bribe – a suitcase full of dollars in $10 000 stacks – that was alleged to have been handed over by a senior South African bid committee official in Paris to a relative of then Fifa vice-president Jack Warner, and then flown back the same day to the Caribbean island Trinidad and Tobago.
It also includes the alleged transfer of $10 million, which was most likely paid from Fifa’s headquarters in Zurich to the Caribbean Football Union’s headquarters in Kingston, Jamaica.
Jennifer Rodgers, executive director of the Center for the Advancement of Public Integrity at Columbia Law School in New York, said: “US jurisdiction requires ties to the US, both in connection with the charged criminal conduct (called subject matter jurisdiction), and the person being charged (called personal jurisdiction).
“The US does not have jurisdiction over crimes committed entirely outside of the US with absolutely no US ties by non-US persons with no US ties.”
Jack Hillmeyer, spokesperson for the US embassy in Pretoria, on Friday said his embassy could not comment further on the Fifa investigation, except to say that from the past week’s indictments, it was clear that the focus of the investigators was not on South Africans, but the citizens of other countries.
Hillmeyer pointed out that South Africa was mentioned in the report, but it would be premature to speculate about the identity of the South Africans implicated in the provisional investigation and the nature of their possible involvement.
However, this did not mean any high-ranking soccer official with a guilty conscience could breathe a sigh of relief.
“The co-conspirators can still be charged,” Rodgers said.
“The co-conspirator designation means only that they are not charged in that particular indictment, not that they will not be charged in the future.”
And even if the South Africans are not charged in this indictment, their identities may still be revealed at the trial.
“Federal indictments in the US do not name individuals and entities that are not being charged in that indictment – this is to protect those people and companies from public disclosure, given that they may never be charged at all,” said Rodgers.
“To the extent these unnamed co-conspirators are important to the evidence being presented at trial, they will be named at trial. Except under extremely rare circumstances not present here, there are no secret witnesses in the US and no unnamed sources at trial.”
The indictment against 14 Fifa officials exposed how soccer executives cashed in on their positions. This included voting for certain countries to host events such as the World Cup, and ensuring multinational companies received lucrative advertising contracts and TV rights.
According to various court documents released by the US department of justice this past week, this is what it will cost to bribe a Fifa official:
. $15 000: In 2011, Danny Jordaan was in the running to join Fifa’s executive committee. A statement by Fifa official Chuck Blazer revealed Jordaan may have lost out because he wasn’t willing to pay bribes. “Danny said he received calls from people in the middle of the night who were committed to supporting him, and that these people had to break their commitment. The supporters indicated they received money – $15 000 per vote – and that if Danny would ‘match it’, he could have the vote. Danny lost the election.”
. $1 million: A member of the Morocco bid committee reportedly paid $1 million to Blazer to cast his vote for Morocco to host the 1998 World Cup. Blazer allegedly accepted the bribe, although Morocco still lost the bid to France.
. $110 million: Various officials, including Fifa vice-president Jeffrey Webb, are alleged to have done a deal to receive $110 million in bribes to sell the media rights to the Copa América tournament. The US department of justice alleges $40 million was paid before the scheme was exposed
– Additional reporting by Erika Gibson