FIFA Presidential Candidate Dragged Into U.S. Investigation

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FIFA presidential candidate Tokyo Sexwale (Getty)
(WFI) Tokyo Sexwale appeared before a United States grand jury as a witness regarding an alleged illegal payment by South Africa to former FIFA vice president Jack Warner. 

Sexwale, one of five men vying for world football’s top job in February, appeared for the investigation at the request of the FBI on Dec. 17.

A spokesperson for Sexwale confirmed to the BBC that “he did appear before a grand jury”.

“The FBI said he needed to appear and went as a potential witness.”

The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating an alleged $10 million payment from South Africa to Warner and two other former FIFA executive committee members in exchange for their votes of support for South Africa to host the 2010 World Cup.

The payment was made in 2008 and sent through FIFA using three wire transfers. In June, South African sport’s minister Fikile Mbalula vehemently denied allegations the payment was made in exchange for the votes.

"The money was to support other projects in the diaspora,” Mbalula said. “What we are saying is we did not bribe.”

Sexwale could provide valuable testimony to the investigation as a member of the organizing committee that brought the FIFA World Cup to the African continent for the first time.

The news of Sexwale’s appearance in a New York court came the same day FIFA banned disgraced former president Sepp Blatter and UEFA president Michel Platini for eight years for their roles in the ongoing corruption scandals. Blatter’s replacement will be elected on Feb. 26 at the FIFA congress in Zurich.

Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa, Jerome Champagne, Gianni Infantino and Tokyo Sexwale are the candidates seeking to restore credibility to world football as its new president.

By INSIDER Kevin Nutley

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