Egypt refused to bribe FIFA official to secure World Cup vote: Former sports minister

Ahram Online , Thursday 4 Jun 2015

Egypt's former sports minister Aley Eddine Helal alleges that the country refused to bribe ex-FIFA vice-president Jack Warner to secure the right to host the 2010 World Cup

Danny Jordaan (L) CEO of the 2010 FIFA World Cup Organising Committee South Africa shakes hands with FIFA president Sepp Blatter during the launch of the official matchball for the 2010 World Cup, before the draw for the finals, in Cape Town December 4, 2009 (Photo: Reuters)

Egypt refused to pay a $7 million bribe to ex-FIFA Vice-President Jack Warner to help Egypt win its bid to host the 2010 World Cup, former sports minister Aley Eddine Helal said on Thursday.

Egypt dramatically lost their bid to host the 2010 tournament, after failing to obtain a single vote in the 2004 poll for it, with South Africa beating competition from Morocco to win hosting rights of the football’s most prestigious tournament.

"I did not imagine that FIFA was so corrupt," Helal told ONTV programme Manchet on Thursday. “Jack Warner demanded $7 million before the voting.”

"Egypt's FA president El-Dahshori Harb met with the FIFA official in the United Arab Emirates and informed me that he wanted a $7 million bribe."

"I told the EFA [Egyptian Football Association] president that Egypt could not participate in such a crime."

"I informed Egypt's former spy chief Omar Suleiman, who confirmed that I had made the right decision," he said.

Egypt's failure to win a bid to host 2010 sent shockwaves across the country. Football officials at the time were severely criticised, as local media dubbed the poll result "the World Cup zero scandal."

Asked about his silence during all these years, former sports minister Helal, who was in charge of Egypt's 2010 bid committee, explained on Thursday that he had opted for silence to protect Egyptian football from any sanctions, especially as he possesed no material proof confirming the alleged bribery offer.

Warner is among more than a dozen officials charged by the US Department of Justice with running a criminal enterprise that received more than $150 million in bribes.

US prosecutors say Warner solicited bribes worth millions from various parties for favourite treatment in securing tournaments and charged him with offences including racketeering and bribery.

Chuck Blazer, another former FIFA executive committee member, admitted taking bribes relating to a range of tournaments, including the 1998 and 2010 World Cups.

South Africa's elite Hawks police unit has opened a preliminary investigation into the involvement of local officials in the payment of what US prosecutors call a $10 million bribe to a FIFA executive to secure the 2010 World Cup.

South African sports officials have acknowledged authorising the payment of $10 million to Jack Warner, but say that the money was a donation for development projects, and not a bribe.

The Hawks, formally known as the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, said their initial assessment would determine whether a full investigation was needed, a decision which would be announced next week.

On Wednesday, Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula confirmed the contents of a leaked letter from the South African Football Association, which showed that money originally intended to organise the 2010 World Cup had been paid directly to Warner.

The football governing body has witnessed a raucous week, starting with the arrest of seven FIFA barons and ending with football leader Sepp Blatter serenely announcing his resignation on Tuesday, four days after winning a fourth presidency mandate. 

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