England’s Football Association (FA) chairman, Lord Triesman, has accused Spain and Russia of planning to bribe referees in this summer’s 2010 World Cup Tournament.
The former Government Minister who was given the job of trying to improve the FA’s reputation made the accusation during a recorded hour-long meeting with a former aide, Melissa Jacobs. Jacobs worked as a civil servant he employed as a private secretary when he served as a Minister at the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills.
Triesman suggested that Spain may decide to withdraw their bid to stage the 2018 World Cup if Russia helps them bribe referees in next month’s 2010 World Cup tournament in South Africa.
Jacobs also told reporters that she went on a series of dinner dates with Triesman shortly after he joined the FA in January of 2008. She described their relationship as one that became intimate. Later she reportedly became increasingly uncomfortable with the idea of dating a married man, and ended the relationship.
The taped conversation between the two occurred at a restaurant two weeks ago in London where Triesman very candidly discussed the serious accusations he was making.
The taped comments include the English FA chairman saying: “There’s some evidence that the Spanish football authorities are trying to identify the referees…and pay them.”
While discussing where England might find support for its 2018 World Cup bid, Triesman repeated the accusation.
“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,” he said. “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.”
At that point, Jacobs interrupted him with a question regarding Russia. The transcript of the conversation, as provided by the The Mail, went as follows:
Miss Jacobs: Would Russia help them with that?
Lord Triesman: Oh, I think Russia will cut deals.
Miss Jacobs: Why will Russia help? Are Russia in the World Cup?
Lord Triesman: No, they’re not.
Miss Jacobs: Oh no they’re not, they’ve got nothing to lose?
Lord Triesman: Absolutely nothing at all to lose. Exactly.
Spain prior to these accusations was considered one of the favorites in the 2010 World Cup.
Many suggest that Triesman’s statement will be considered an attack on FIFA and the integrity of the game.
Both the Spanish Football Federation and Russian Football Union refused to comment on the story.
Triesman went on to say during the taped conversation that he believed his friendship with Michel Platini, the president of the European ruling body EUFA would help England’s bid for the 2018 World Cup. He also noted that the Latin Americans have a “history of extraordinary corruption” and that claimed that one representative of a Latin American country wanted an honorary knighthood with England.
Jacobs then asked him if he believed that giving the Latin American representative knighthood would persuade said representative to vote for England’s bid.
“Utterly unpersuadable. I’m not even going to try,” he replied. “…When the French went for the World Cup they gave this bloke the Legion d’honneur and I guess that’s their equivalent, although they hand them out very much more freely than we do.”
When brought on to his current position, Triesman was seen as a man who could restore the organization’s reputation after a series of sex scandals and allegations of mismanagement. A former student radical and one-time member of the Communist Party, Triesman was also known for his close ties with Tony Blair.
Shortly after taking over as the FA he outlined a detailed plan for the next four years in which he said: “We know that football can be a great ambassador for the world of sport and the best social values that sport can inspire; learning, health, social inclusion and decent personal behaviour. We are committed to the ethics of our sport; fair play and respect for the laws of the game, players and officials. If we start from integrity, we will find the best course for English football as a whole.”
The revelation of the conversation came two days after Triesman and David Beckham presented England’s 1,752 page ‘bid book’ to the president of FIFA.
Triesman reportedly made desperate attempts to secure a High Court injunction to prevent The Mail from publishing the story about his comments, but was unsuccessful.