Fat Fifa refund awaits Safa

2010-10-31 10:56

After Safa went cap in hand to Fifa a fortnight ago, the world governing football body has played ball with it.

Part of the huge cash injection Fifa promised Safa for successfully hosting the 2010 World Cup has started rolling in and the first payment of more than R60-million is expected any time now.

Confirming the news, Safa chief executive Leslie Sedibe said Fifa had promised to release the first amount this week, something that would see the Kirsten Nematandani-led executive smile all the way to the bank.

Sedibe said the money was a refund for the cash used to purchase more than 70 000 World Cup tickets for South ­Africans.

Most of the tickets – about ­45 500 – were for the less popular games involving Honduras, New Zealand, Serbia, Algeria, Slovenia and Slovakia in Polokwane, Mbombela, Port Elizabeth, Rustenburg and Bloemfontein.

“We have been unfairly criticised that it was a wasteful expenditure from our side when our aim was to make the World Cup a success. We could not afford to have empty stadiums hence we bought our people tickets to experience the event and fortunately it was not ­money down the drain as we are getting it back,” said Sedibe.

He said this was further proof that Fifa was happy with how the tournament was run and the good attendance.

A fortnight ago, Sedibe and Nematandani went to Zurich to argue that they needed the money back in their kitty as they would not have spent it had it not been for the World Cup.

Safa spent about R10 million buying tickets for the final and more than R 6 million for Bafana’s opening game against Mexico.

Sedibe added that Fifa had shown that Safa had a positive balance of $6.2 million (about R43 million) in an account held by the world organisation.

Safa was still waiting for another windfall from Fifa for the World Cup ticket sales, but the money would go into a trust fund.

Sedibe also confirmed that Fifa had given his organisation 35 buses that were used ­during the event.

Fifa president Sepp Blatter is expected in the country next month to announce the profit made during the World Cup.

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