Officially, South Africa won the vote to host the 2010 World Cup 14-10. But according to allegations from a FIFA executive committee member, after conferring with his fellow voters, the tally was actually 13-11 in favor of Morocco, and some major bribes and shady vote-counting led FIFA to announce the fraudulent result.
The claim was made in 2010 by Ismail Bhamjee, an ExCo member from Botswana, and captured on tape by reporters of The Sunday Times posing as lobbyists.
The Times said it did not release the tape at that time because of legal reasons, but turned it over to FIFA—and FIFA did nothing about it.
This weekend the Times published excerpts of that tape (behind its paywall).
“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,” Bhamjee said.
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 controversial 2010 vote is the same one that American executive Chuck Blazer admitted taking bribes to swing, and for which documents show that FIFA No. 2 Jerome Valcke was aware of a $10 million payment from South Africa to corrupt voters.
This weekend, disgraced FIFA president Sepp Blatter was named in connection with that payout.
But don’t think that Morocco were overwhelmed innocents here. On the tapes recorded by The Sunday Times, other voters speak of being offered and accepting bribes by Morocco.
Jack Warner, the CONCACAF executive, allegedly accepted a $1M bribe from Morocco but double-crossed them when South Africa’s bribe was larger.
These are the kinds of stories that are going to seep out now, since formal investigations have started, indicted executives are looking to cut plea deals, and the bigger power brokers are no longer in positions to punish disloyalty.
And anyway, it’s unlikely that there has been a World Cup in your lifetime that has been corruption-free.