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England controversy

Triesman resigns after 'bribe' storm

May 16, 2010
By Soccernet staff

Lord Triesman has resigned as the chairman of both the Football Association and England's 2018 World Cup bid team following a newspaper report that he claimed Spain are attempting to bribe referees at this summer's World Cup.

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Lord Triesman
PA PhotosLord Triesman was appointed FA chairman in January 2008

His stepping-down was confirmed in an FA statement that followed an emergency meeting at the governing body's Wembley HQ. The statement said: "After fully discussing and considering the alleged comments with Lord Triesman, The FA Board accepted his resignation as FA Chairman and Chairman of the World Cup Bid Board with immediate effect."

The Mail on Sunday detailed a conversation between Triesman and a former aide in which the official, who was leading England's bid to host the 2018 World Cup, reportedly makes the allegations of corruption.

Triesman is quoted as saying that Spain could withdraw from the race to host the 2018 World Cup if rivals Russia helped them to pay off match officials in South Africa. Spain would then switch their support to the Russian bid.

"There's some evidence that the Spanish football authorities are trying to identify the referees...and pay them," Triesman allegedly said.

"My assumption is that the Latin Americans, although they've not said so, will vote for Spain. And if Spain drop out, because Spain are looking for help from the Russians to help bribe the referees in the World Cup, their votes may then switch to Russia."

The Mail on Sunday claims the FA tried to issue a High Court injunction to prevent the publication of the story on Saturday but now Triesman has resigned following the arrival of damaging headlines at such a sensitive time for England's 2018 bid team. It is understood that he will remain in his other role as FA chairman for the time being.

The statement included an attempt by Triesman to redress the balance of the newspaper story. "A private conversation with someone whom I thought to be a friend was taped without my knowledge and passed to a national newspaper," he said. "That same friend has also chosen to greatly exaggerate the extent of our friendship.

"In that conversation I commentated on speculation circulating about conspiracies around the World. Those comments were never intended to be taken seriously as indeed is the case with many private conversations.

"The views expressed were not the views of the 2018 Bid board or the FA. Nobody should be under any misapprehension that The FA or 2018 Bid board are disrespectful of other nations or FIFA and I regret any such inference that may have been drawn from what has been reported.

"Entrapment especially by a friend is an unpleasant experience both for my family and me but it leaves me with no alternative but to resign. I have immediately informed The FA Board of my decision."

It is believed that the bid team has faxed letters of apology to its Spanish and Russian rivals, as well as FIFA, in an effort to distance itself from Triesman's alleged comments.

FA sources told Soccernet: "The FA are currently deeply aware of the importance in limiting the damage accentuated by what is now happening, and clearly there is damage as it wouldn't have warranted this resignation of the chairman.

"However, it is vitally important that we put our bid back on track immediately. The fabric of our bid, the material elements of the bid, remain intact."

It is also reported that Triesman discussed the controversy surrounding John Terry, when the defender was stripped of the England captaincy following allegations of an affair with the former partner of Wayne Bridge.

"I thought it was bad behaviour and very disruptive to the team," Triesman said. "The rest of the players pretty much felt that. He doesn't believe he did anything wrong at all. Doesn't see it. His Mum and Dad tell him he didn't do anything wrong."

The story came only two days after the FA submitted its 1,752-page bid book to FIFA in an effort to persuade world football's governing body that England would be the best choice to host the 2018 finals.

Sports Minister Hugh Robertson has welcomed the news that Triesman has resigned following the embarrassing episode.

"It's entirely right that he should stand down and that the action should have been taken as quickly as is the case," Robertson told Sky Sports News. The 2018 team moved quickly to appoint a replacement. A statement read: "Following the unanimous approval of the Football Association Board, Geoff Thompson has tonight been confirmed as the new Chairman of England 2018.

"Thompson, who is a vice-president on both the FIFA and UEFA Executive Committees, is England's most senior international football administrator.

"He was part of the five person delegation which delivered England's Bid Book to FIFA president Sepp Blatter in Zurich on Friday and was chairman of the FA for nine years between 1999 and 2008. He will take up his new role with immediate effect."