Triesman slip of tongue rocks English game

LONDON - A bleak day for English football ended with 2018 World Cup bid badly damaged, the FA in chaos and chairman David Triesman forced to resign after a newspaper sting in which he is taped claiming a Spanish bribery conspiracy.

Triesman, who on Friday stood beaming next to the nation's golden boy David Beckham as England's glossy 2018 bid brochure was presented to FIFA boss Sepp Blatter in Zurich, was left with no option but to quit as chairman of the FA and the World Cup bid, after being snared by what he described as entrapment.

The 66-year-old enjoyed the company of Prince William at the FA Cup final on Saturday, but a few hours later discovered his name splashed over the front page of the Mail on Sunday and his career as a football administrator in ruins.

In extracts of a secretly recorded private chat with Melissa Jacobs, a former aide from his time as a government minister, Triesman reportedly claims that Spain and Russia, rival bidders for the 2018 World Cup, were conspiring to bribe referees at next month's finals in South Africa.

Grovelling letters of apology were sent by England 2018 team to their Spanish and Russian counterparts as well as governing body FIFA as bid chiefs attempted to limit the damage to a campaign that on Friday seemed firmly back on track after some high-profile difficulties in the past.

In a statement Triesman, who was seen as a safe pair of hands for an accident-prone organisation when he became the FA's first independent chairman, confirmed he had resigned after little more than two years in the post.

"A private conversation with someone whom I thought to be a friend was taped without my knowledge and passed to a national newspaper," Triesman said in a statement issued by the FA after a hastily convened Board meeting at Wembley on Sunday.

"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.

"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."

Geoff Thompson, a former FA chairman, was named as the new chairman of England's 2018 bid team late on Sunday in a bid to keep the damage caused by Triesman's comments to a minimum.

While Triesman's opinions on Chelsea's John Terry, stripped of the England captaincy after his own tabloid scandal, were quite harmless, his shocking claims, albeit private ones, about Spain and Russia made his position untenable.

BRIBE REFEREES

Triesman appears to suggest that Spain would consider dropping out of the race to host the 2018 World Cup to boost Russia's bid chances if the Russians, who failed to qualify for next month's finals, helped bribe referees.

"I think the Africans we are doing very well with," Triesman is reported to have said in the most damaging chunk of the extracts. "I think we're doing kind of well with some of the Asians. Probably