England bid chief quits

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LONDON, May 17- England's campaign to host the 2018 World Cup suffered a major blow on Sunday when Lord David Triesman quit as head of the bid team following claims he had accused Spain and Russia of bribery.
Triesman, 66, also stepped down as president of the English Football Association after a hastily-arranged meeting with the FA board at Wembley.

The meeting was called in the wake of allegations made in the Mail on Sunday newspaper, which suggested Triesman told a former aide that Spain could drop its 2018 bid if rival bidder Russia helped bribe referees at this summer’s World Cup.

The England 2018 World Cup bid team faxed letters of apology to the Spanish and Russian associations as they attempted to minimise the damage caused.

"I have decided to resign as chairman of the FA and the 2018 bid board," Triesman said in a statement.

"A private conversation with someone whom I thought to be a friend was taped without my knowledge and passed to a national newspaper. That same friend has also chosen to greatly exaggerate the extent of our friendship.

"In that conversation I commented 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.

"The views expressed were not the views of the 2018 bid board or the FA.

"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.

"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. I have immediately informed the FA board of my decision."

FA board members David Sheepshanks and Roger Burden have been drafted in as acting joint chairmen of the FA, but as yet there is no replacement for Triesman as chairman of the World Cup bid.

Sunday’s controversy comes just two days after Triesman, accompanied by David Beckham, handed over England’s bid book for the 2018 World Cup to FIFA chief Sepp Blatter in Zurich.

England staged the World Cup for the first and only time in 1966, which was also the only occasion they had lifted the trophy.

The chief of Russia’s bid, Aleksey Sorokin, has called for football’s governing body to "take appropriate measures".

"It is a sign that we are going in the right direction, that the quality of our bid leaves no other alternative for our competitors but to bring up these absurd allegations," Sorokin told Sky Sports News.

When asked if they would take up the matter with FIFA, he added: "We haven’t had that discussion, we hope that FIFA will take appropriate measures itself without our motions."

The FA bid enjoys support from the Premier League and Prime Minister David Cameron and new Sports Minister Hugh Robertson this morning welcomed reports that Triesman was to be stood down.

"It’s entirely right that he should stand down and that the action should have been taken as quickly as is the case," he told Sky Sports News.

England, Russia, joint Spanish-Portuguese and Dutch-Belgian bids, Australia and the United States are the countries in contention for the World Cup in 2018.

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