Monday, November 29, 1999

England bid apologises over bribery allegations

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England's 2018 World Cup bid team apologised to its Spanish and Russian counterparts on Sunday following a newspaper report quoting the Football Association chairman making bribery allegations.The Mail on Sunday published the contents of what it said was a secretly taped conversation between David Triesman and a former aide from his time as a government minister in which he appears to suggest Spain was seeking to bribe referees at next month's World Cup in South Africa.Triesman, who is also leading England's bid to stage the 2018 World Cup, was quoted as saying Russia could help Spain bribe referees in return for Spain withdrawing its own bid to host the tournament.A source within England's 2018 bid team said that Triesman's remarks in no way represented their views and confirmed that letters of apology had been faxed to the bid chiefs of Spain, Russia and world governing body FIFA.The Mail on Sunday said the FA had failed in its attempt to get a High Court injunction preventing publication of the embarrassing revelations which could seriously undermine England's hopes of hosting the 2018 tournament.The FA was not commenting on the story which also contained Triesman's views on Chelsea's John Terry, who lost the England captaincy following tabloid revelations about his private life.MATCH OFFICIALSIn extracts published in the Mail on Sunday, the 66-year-old Triesman was quoted as saying that Russia would help Spain bribe match officials in South Africa next month in return for a clear run at the 2018 World Cup for which they are also bidding."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, who joined David Beckham at FIFA headquarters in Zurich last week to hand over England's 2018 bid book, 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, who became the first independent chairman of the FA in 2008, has been criticised over his handling of England's 2018 bid which has suffered a series of public relations setbacks. FIFA vice president Jack Warner was among the critics.England's bid, which was outlined in a 1,500-page book last week at FIFA headquarters, is still regarded as the front runner but the Mail on Sunday revelations have caused severe embarrassment.As well as England, Russia and the joint bid from Spain and Portugal, FIFA has received bids from Australia, the United States and Belgium-Netherlands to stage the 2018 World Cup.(Editing by Jon Bramley and Ed Osmond)To query or comment on this story email
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