LONDON// England's hopes of hosting the 2018 World Cup were rocked yesterday when Lord Triesman, the bid chief, stood down following a newspaper report in which he appeared to make bribery allegations against rival bidders. The Mail on Sunday published the contents of what it said was a secretly taped private conversation between Triesman, who is also chairman of the English Football Association (FA), and a former aide from his time as a government minister.
Triesman suggested that Spain, the tournament favourites, were, with the help of Russia, seeking to bribe referees at next month's World Cup. Sources confirmed that Triesman had decided to stand down while England 2018 chiefs moved quickly to distance themselves from his reported comments, saying letters of apology had been faxed to their Spanish and Russian counterparts as well as Fifa, the world governing body.
Triesman, whose FA position is now in question, was quoted as saying Russia could help Spain bribe referees in return for the Spaniards withdrawing their bid to host the 2018 World Cup. The Mail on Sunday said the FA had failed in its attempt to get a High Court injunction preventing publication of the revelations. The FA has yet to comment. While the 66-year-old Triesman's comments were made in a private conversation, the nature of them made his position untenable.
"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."
England's bid is still regarded as the front runner. They are competing with Russia and the joint bid from Spain-Portugal as well as Australia, USA and Belgium-Holland. * Reuters