England’s bid to host the 2018 World Cup is in disarray after its boss David Triesman resigned over bribery allegations against rivals Spain and Russia.
Triesman quit after he was secretly taped by The Mail on Sunday newspaper suggesting Spain was planning to bribe referees at this year’s World Cup with the help of Russia, which didn’t qualify, and then support the Russians’ bid.
“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,” Triesman said on Sunday in a statement.
“I have immediately informed The FA Board of my decision.”
The newspaper taped Triesman while talking two weeks ago with Melissa Jacobs, a former aide from his time as a government minister.
Letters of apology
“A private conversation with someone whom I thought to be a friend was taped without my knowledge and passed to a national newspaper,” Triesman 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.”
England’s bid team took immediate action Sunday morning, faxing letters of apology to the Spanish and Russian football federations as well as FIFA, saying it didn’t support the bid chairman’s allegations.
“The views expressed were not the views of the 2018 bid board or The FA,” Triesman said
“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.”
Russian bid chief Alexey Sorokin responded by describing the allegations as “absurd” and urged FIFA to “take appropriate measures”.
England had been the favourite to win the vote by FIFA’s 24-man executive committee in December and host its second World Cup and first since 1966.
Triesman joined former England captain David Beckham at FIFA headquarters in Zurich on Friday to hand over the official bid book to president Sepp Blatter.
In Europe, Spain is bidding jointly with Portugal to host either the 2018 or 2022 World Cup, as are Belgium and Netherlands, while England and Russia are standing alone.
Australia and the United States are also bidding for either tournament, while Japan, Qatar and South Korea are concentrating on 2022 as they believe a European nation is favoured to win for 2018.