South African former President Thabo Mbeki, who led the country from 1999 to 2008, said no public money was paid to secure the right to hold the soccer World Cup in 2010.
“I am not aware of anybody who solicited a bribe from the government for the purpose of our country being awarded the right to host the World Cup,” Mbeki said in an e-mailed statement on Friday. “As Minister of Sport and Recreation Fikile Mbalula has stated on behalf of the government, no public money was ever used to pay a bribe.”
South Africa twice paid bribes to ensure it won the bid to stage the 2010 tournament, the U.S. Justice Department alleges in an indictment it unsealed on Wednesday. South Africa’s current government has rejected the claims.