Soccer: England's World Cup bid chief quits after sting
AP Sports Writer
LONDON — The chairman of England's World Cup bid and soccer federation quit both jobs Sunday after accusing 2018 bid rivals Spain and Russia of bribery.
David Triesman insisted he was a victim of "entrapment" and his comments were "never intended to be taken seriously."
Triesman was secretly taped by The Mail on Sunday newspaper suggesting Spain was planning to bribe referees at the upcoming 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 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.
"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 faxed letters of apology Sunday to the Spanish and Russian soccer federations and soccer's governing body, 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 called the allegations as "absurd" and urged FIFA to "take appropriate measures."
England had been the favorite 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.
Spain is bidding 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. Japan, Qatar and South Korea are concentrating on 2022, believing a European nation is favored to win for 2018.
Triesman claimed in the Mail's recordings that Russia has "absolutely nothing at all to lose" and would cut deals.
He also offered an assessment of England's chances.
"I think the Africans we are doing very well with. 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.