Triesman resigns as FA chairman

LONDON - England's Football Association chairman David Triesman resigned on Sunday following a newspaper report which quoted him as suggesting Spain and Russia were planning to bribe referees at next month's World Cup finals.

On a dark day for the hierachy of English football, Triesman said he had no choice but to resign from his two-year reign as FA chairman and head of the country's bid to host the 2018 World Cup after what he described as entrapment.

"I have decided to resign as chairman of The FA and the 2018 Bid board," the 66-year-old said in a FA 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 commentated 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.

"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."

Extracts of a secretly taped conversation between Triesman and a former female aide from his time as a government minister were published by the Mail on Sunday, including the shocking allegations about rival 2018 bidders Spain and Russia.

On a day of frantic damage limitation measures, England's 2018 World Cup bid team issued apologies to their Spanish and Russian counterparts as well as governing body FIFA, adding that Triesman's comments in no way represented their own views.

"The FA Board today met at Wembley Stadium to discuss allegations published in a national newspaper which have been attributed to The FA and England's 2018 FIFA World Cup Bid Chairman Lord Triesman," an FA statement said after a hastily convened Board meeting.

"After fully discussing and considering the alleged comments with Lord Triesman, The FA Board accepted his resignation as FA Chairman and Chairman of the World Cup Bid Board with immediate effect."

The FA confirmed that Board members David Sheepshanks and Roger Burden had been appointed as joint acting chairmen.

In the Mail on Sunday report Triesman also spoke candidly about Chelsea's John Terry, stripped of the England captaincy after revelations about his private life, but it was comments about Spain and Russia that left his position untenable and threatened to wreck England's hopes of staging the World Cup.

Triesman's comments appeared to suggest a conspiracy that would mean Spain dropping out of the 2018 bidding to help Russia if Russia helped bribe referees next month in South Africa.

"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 to present England's bid book at FIFA headquarters in Zurich on Friday, was quoted as saying in the paper.

"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."

On Sunday, Triesman apologised for the comment