South Africa denies Fifa was paid World Cup bribe

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Media captionSouth African in Johannesburg give their reaction to allegations that the government paid bribes to host the Fifa 2010 World Cup

South African officials have dismissed allegations by US investigators that a $10m (£6.5m) bribe was organised for Fifa officials to host the 2010 World Cup.

There had been a "clean audit report" at the end of the World Cup, a government minister said.

A football official added that the bid was run by "men of integrity", including the late Nelson Mandela.

South Africa was the first African nation to host the World Cup.

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Fifa, the world football governing body, chose it ahead of Morocco.

'Don't panic'

The South African government promised to pay $10m to former Fifa vice-president Jack Warner and his co-conspirators in exchange for winning the right to host the tournament, an FBI indictment alleges.

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Image caption South Africa is the only African country to have hosted the World Cup

The indictment later states that the South Africans "were unable to arrange for the payment to be made directly from government funds" so instead the $10m was sent through Fifa using funds that would otherwise have gone to South Africa to support the World Cup.

In the South African government's first response to the allegation, Jeff Radebe, a minister in the president's office, said that leading accounting firm Ernest & Young had given South Africa a "clean audit report" at the end of the World Cup.

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Image caption Nelson Mandela played a key role in the bid

Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula said South Africa would ask the US for the indictment through diplomatic channels in order "to establish the basis on which the allegations are being made as this has a potential of tarnishing the name and people of our country globally and put into question the competence of our nation in organising mega events".

The South Africa Football Association (Safa) said the allegation was "baseless" and "untested".

"No need to press any panic button regarding the Fifa 2010 World Cup. Terrible thumb-sucking from individual making those wild allegations," its spokesman Dominic Chimhavi said in a tweet.

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Media captionAttorney General Loretta Lynch said that Fifa executives and others used bribes to influence the decision to hold the World Cup in South Africa

Mr Warner said on Wednesday that he was innocent of any charges.

He handed himself over to police in his home nation of Trinidad and Tobago and spent the night in prison after delays in processing his $395,000 bail.

Fifa announced a provisional ban from football-related activity on 11 of the 14 people who were charged by the US authorities of racketeering, fraud and money laundering.

But it said the election on Friday - in which Fifa president Sepp Blatter is seeking a fifth term - would go ahead.

Mr Blatter, who has not been named in the investigations, issued a statement on the US case, saying: "Such misconduct has no place in football and we will ensure that those who engage in it are put out of the game."

Swiss prosecutors have also opened a separate investigation into the bidding process for the World Cup tournaments in 2018 in Russia and 2022 in Qatar.

Swiss police said they would question 10 Fifa executive committee members who participated in the votes that selected Russia and Qatar in December 2010.

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