ENGLISH hopes that Lord Triesman’s swift resignation would minimise damage to the country’s ailing bid to host the 2018 World Cup were dashed last night when Fifa vowed to investigate his alleged comments.
Lord Coe, who sits on the bid board, had attempted to draw a line under Triesman’s reported suggestion that rival bidders Spain and Russia were conspiring to bribe referees by insisting it had not “become a bad bid overnight”.
The Football Association’s acting chief executive, Alex Horne, also sought to rally support following the hugely embarrassing incident by urging “fans and the nation as a whole” to ignore “gossip and nonsense” and unite behind the bid.
But those impassioned pleas were left looking forlorn when Fifa announced its ethics committee would examine Triesman’s alleged remarks, ensuring England’s humiliation will be drawn out for days and possibly weeks.
Triesman resigned as both chairman of the 2018 bid and the FA on Sunday after it was reported he made the incendiary claims in a secretly-recorded private conversation with a former aide.
A statement from the world governing body read: “Fifa can confirm that secretary general Jerome Valcke has requested the Fifa ethics committee to examine the alleged statements made by Lord Triesman in relation to the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 Fifa World Cups.
“In addition, Fifa has sent a letter to the Football Association asking the FA to provide a report on this matter, including Lord Triesman’s position.”
Coe, who helped win London the 2012 Olympics, said: “This has been a traumatic 48 hours but this does not become a bad bid overnight.
Solid foundations are in place, we have the best venues, most passionate fans, best market for sponsors and an unparalleled ability to deliver this tournament in safe and secure surroundings. The only thing we don’t have is the private views of the former chairman.”
Horne said the country was at “a crucial time”, adding England had to demonstrate “we are serious about our bid for the World Cup 2018”.
Russia: We have received no apology
RUSSIA’S top 2018 official has denied suggestions England’s bid team have apologised for Lord Triesman’s alleged comments.
English chiefs were said to have faxed contrite letters to both Russia and Spain after Triesman was reported to have implicated them in a bribery plot. But Aleksey Sorokin yesterday said no letter had been received and vowed to report the lack of action to world governing body Fifa.
“We have not received any letter of apology, as was said in the press,” said Sorokin. “We checked with our FA and there is nothing from the English on this incident, therefore we will have to bring this matter to Fifa’s attention.”
Spain and Russia are among England’s main rivals to host the World Cup in 2018.
Sorokin added: “These allegations are entirely groundless. They are on the verge of being absurd.”