FIFA: No substance to Triesman claims

JOHANNESBURG - FIFA has found no basis for allegations reported by the former head of England's 2018 World Cup bid that rival bidders Spain and Russia were conspiring to bribe referees at next month's tournament in South Africa.

Football's ruling body said that after an urgent and thorough inquiry by its ethics committee, "FIFA has found no indication that there is any basis to the allegations reported by Lord (David) Triesman."

It said it would not pursue the matter further.

The affair is believed to have badly damaged England's bids for both the 2018 or 2022 World Cups.

Triesman, former chairman of the English Football Association as well as the bid committee, quit earlier this month after a British newspaper published his secretly-recorded comments suggesting the two rival bidders were planning to bribe referees at the World Cup starting here on June 11.

According to the allegations, Spain could drop its 2018 bid if Russia helped bribe the referees.

A FIFA statement said that Triesman had spoken of speculation circulating among journalists.

It quoted him as saying the speculation did not reflect any information known to him or the English authorities and his comments were not intended to be taken seriously.

FIFA said it had also contacted football authorities in both Spain and Russia, to which the English FA has profusely apologised for the statements made by Triesman.

In light of the lack of any evidence supporting the allegations "the chairman of the FIFA Ethics Committee has decided not to pursue this matter any further," the statement said.

Earlier, FIFA said it had tightened safeguards against match-fixing at the World Cup, including setting up a confidential hotline for players, coaches and referees to report attempts to bribe them.

Matches would also be monitored by Early Warning System (EWS), a company formed to monitor signs of matchfixing, while 400 bookmakers would report any irregular betting.

FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke has said it is vital that there could be no suggestion of bribery or corruption at football's biggest event.

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