According to a report published this weekend in The Sunday Times, FIFA rigged the 2010 World Cup voting process so that the tournament would go to South Africa rather than Morocco. While the original report can be found here, it contains sensational claims from former FIFA Executive Committee member Ismail Bhamjee, of Botswana, that the voting process was rigged.
Bhamjee has alleged in secret tapes that The Sunday Times say they in turn passed on to FIFA that the voting process was rigged. The article reads: " 'After talking with everybody ... Whose votes went where? We're all colleagues, you know. And then we found out that actually Morocco won by two votes,' said Bhamjee.
He admitted it was possible some Exco members might have lied about their votes. But, he went on to list those he understood had supported Morocco and seemed convinced the north Africans had won. He speculated that the ballot papers, which were tallied behind closed doors, could have been deliberately miscounted. He added: 'Please, this is very secret.'
The tapes were first handed to Fifa by this newspaper in October 2010 with a request it should investigate theserious allegations of corruption they contained."
While allegations of bribery and corruption have circled FIFA for years, this is the farthest any allegation of impropriety has gone. Over the last couple of weeks, the world of FIFA has fallen apart.
They've been publicly accused of bribery after dreadful refereeing decisions (Football Association of Ireland Chief Executive John Delaney stated that FIFA paid them €5 million not to pursue a legal challenge after Thierry Henry's handball in the second leg of a 2009 FIFA World Cup Qualification Playoff. The goal scored following the handball coincidentally sent France to South Africa), seen their second in command implicated in a bribery scandal (Jerome Valcke transferring a $10 million bribe to Jack Warner for his help in securing the 2010 World Cup vote went to South Africa), heard that former Executive Committee member Chuck Blazer told the FBI about accepting bribes for his vote for the 1998 World Cup in France and 2010 World Cup in South Africa, seen nine current and former executives arrested around the world, and seen FIFA President Sepp Blatter resign his presidency.
The corruption within the bidding process does not end with the voting allegedly being fixed. No, both Morocco and South Africa were offering cash for votes. In fact, former FIFA Vice President Jack Warner accepted a bribe from both campaigns. Warner took a $1 million bribe from Morocco before double crossing them and accepting $10 million from South Africa and voting for the South Africans. That $10 million payment, of course, was executed by Jerome Valcke.
The claims made by Bhamjee about Warner in regards to the 2010 World Cup vote were corroborated by Michel Bacchini, a former FIFA Director of Competitions, who consulted on the Moroccan bid. He said to The Sunday Times: "But Jack, they [Moroccan bid team] were paying him and at the end when they were voting here in Zurich, you know, he was making a big scene, he was running out of the hotel complaining that somebody was cheating.
"He was the guy who cheated, he was making a big scenario out of it. I know 100% that he was voting for the South Africans and pretended to vote for the Moroccans ... I always said you never have to pay any money upfront."
Warner is not the only one to claim that he was offered money by the Moroccans. Ahongalu Fusimalohi, a former Executive Committe member from Tonga, says he rejected a $150,000 bribe for his vote. "They were trying to buy me cheap but my selling price would have been a full retirement and in shame, if I was to ever get caught, so I said sorry," he said. "And they'd put it in a separate bank account and I said bullshit, if I get caught, I mean that's a waste of my whole career. I'm not going to buy into this small time petty cash money."
While these latest allegations will shock no one, they will only increase the pressure on FIFA. The Sunday Times claim that they sent the tapes of every interview they conducted to FIFA back in 2010, and the organization sat on them for five years without doing anything. However, they are now in the hands of the FBI and are central to the case they are building against FIFA. It's surely only a matter of time until more information comes to light.