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South Africa has denied paying a $10m bribe to secure the 2010 World Cup, in the wake of a US inquiry into corruption at world football body Fifa.
Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula said the money in question was above board and intended to support football in the African diaspora in the Caribbean.
The Fifa scandal erupted last week when US prosecutors indicted 14 people.
On Tuesday, president Sepp Blatter said he was to step down, just days after he had been re-elected.
Of the 14 indicted by the US on charges of racketeering and money laundering, seven were senior Fifa officials, including two vice-presidents. The seven were arrested in Switzerland as they awaited the Fifa congress and are currently awaiting extradition to the US.
The US justice department alleges the 14 accepted bribes and kickbacks estimated at more than $150m (£97m) over a 24-year period.
US officials quoted in the New York Times also said on Tuesday that Mr Blatter, 79, was under investigation as part of the inquiry. They said they hoped some of the Fifa figures charged would help to build a case against him.
US officials allege South Africa paid a $10m bribe in exchange for support for its 2010 World Cup bid from former Fifa vice-president Jack Warner and several other members of the North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (Concacaf).
But in a press conference on Wednesday, Mr Mbalula said South Africa “categorically denied” the allegation, adding that the money went towards an approved programme.
Mr Blatter was back in his office at Fifa headquarters in Zurich on Wednesday, the BBC understands.
His daughter, Corinne Blatter-Andenmatten, is quoted by Swiss Daily Blick (in German) as saying her father’s decision “has nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with the allegations going around”.
A separate criminal investigation by Swiss authorities into how the 2018 and 2022 World Cups were allocated is also under way.
Australian football chief Frank Lowy said in an open letter on Wednesday that the race to win the 2022 bid, which was awarded to Qatar, was “not clean” and that he had shared what he knew with the authorities.
CULLED FROM BBCNEWS
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