Pretoria - South Africa’s Soccer World Cup bid committee – now mired in the controversy of an alleged $10m bribe to host the 2010 tournament – was at the time awarded one the country’s highest accolades for exceptional contribution to the world of sport.
The order of Ikhamanga in Gold was granted by the president for achievements in arts, culture, literature, music, journalism, and sports for securing the 2010 Soccer World Cup.
The US Justice Department Indictment lists two “high-ranking” South African officials on the bid committee as having engineered a bribe to secure the tournament; the successful under-the-counter payment was allegedly laundered through FIFA itself.
The first alleged bribe, a murky deal made in stacks of $10 000 in a Paris hotel room, failed to secure the 2006 Soccer World Cup.
A second bribe of $10m was allegedly made to secure the 2010 Soccer World Cup tournament, according to the indictment.
According to www.gov.za, the team of officials were lauded as national heroes.
“All South Africans are proud of winning the bid and are grateful for the efforts and hard work of the committee, who without resorting to under-handedness and intrigue, did what was necessary to pursue the goal of convincing the world of our state of readiness.
“Having experienced the bitter national disappointment of a previous bid attempt and having taken to heart the hard lessons of that failure, South Africa's soccer fraternity under the leadership of Molefe Oliphant, president of SAFA, went back to the drawing board with humility to prepare for another attempt at securing the much-coveted event on behalf of the nation.
“Displaying unity and single-mindedness over a period of four years, the committee focused on the task at hand. Painfully analysing the weaknesses of the previous bid through minute examination and analysis of presentation and strategy, the 2010 World Cup Bid Committee unpacked the barely apparent flaws of the ill-fated earlier bid without rancour, spite or ill-feeling.”
“Drawing on the individual strengths of each committee member, with each of them displaying great presence of mind and a keen strategic sense, the committee under the chairpersonship of Irvin Khoza, collectively engineered a new bid based on detailed plans for imaginative stadia within a developmental environment, comprehensive security preparations for any contingency, creative hospitality and transport arrangements for tournament participants and enthusiasts, and world-class technological and infrastructural capability, all presented with just sufficient seasoning and flavour to showcase the sheer love of the country for the sport.”
“The sterling work of the Bid Committee was confirmed by a FIFA Technical Committee which rated the South African bid above all the other contenders on technical grounds. Needless to say, South Africa's bid coaxed even the most cynical observer into admiration and swayed the most sceptical assessor to the firm conviction that South Africa was the best and most appropriate host and venue for the prized tournament,” it reads.
“All South Africans are proud of winning the bid and are grateful for the efforts and hard work of the committee, who without resorting to under-handedness and intrigue, did what was necessary to pursue the goal of convincing the world of our state of readiness.”
Molefe was not available to comment because he was out of the country.