England's World Cup bid chief out after sting
David Triesman resigned as chairman of The Football Association and England's World Cup bid team on Sunday after having made bribery allegations against 2018 bid rivals Spain and Russia.
Triesman 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 Russian bid.
The 66-year-old Triesman met the FA board at Wembley Stadium on Sunday and offered his resignation. David Sheepshanks and Roger Burden will serve as acting joint chairmen.
"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 in a statement. "I have immediately informed the FA board of my decision."
The newspaper taped Triesman while he talked two weeks ago with Melissa Jacobs, a former aide from his time as a government minister.
"A private conversation with someone whom I thought to be a friend was taped without my knowledge and passed to a national newspaper," said Triesman, who became the FA's first independent chairman in 2008. "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 soccer 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 official calls allegations 'absurd'
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 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.
Triesman claimed in the Mail's recordings that Russia has "absolutely nothing at all to lose" and would cut deals.
"I think the Africans we are doing very well with [winning their votes]. I think we're doing kind of well with some of the Asians. Probably doing well with Central and North America," Triesman was quoted as saying. "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."
Triesman's resignation comes less than a month before England's World Cup campaign opens against United States on June 12 and with the FA still searching for a new chief executive after Ian Watmore quit in March following a power struggle.