England World Cup Chairman Accuses Spain and Russia of Bribery, Resigns Amid Scandal

↵There have been precipitous falls in sports, and then there's Lord Triesman, the recently former chairman of England's Football Association (FA). Triesman was the also chairman of England's World Cup bid for 2018 and 2022 before stepping down from both posts just a few days ago. Triesman – along with David Beckham – was on hand just last week to present England's official World Cup bid book to FIFA. Why, then, would he resign so soon after that event? Loose lips, that's why. ↵

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↵It turns out, Triesman was allegedly having an affair with a former aid named Melissa Jacobs. After the affair ended, Jacobs told The Daily Mail the two remained friends. Having lunch two weeks ago, Triesman told Jacobs some very interesting bits of inside information, including his thoughts on John Terry's sex scandal, before telling Jacobs that there is evidence that the Spanish contingent may plan, with Russia's help, to bribe the World Cup referees. Oh, and (some friend), Jacobs recorded the conversation: ↵

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↵⇥But most embarrassing – and damaging – of all Lord Triesman’s indiscreet remarks is his claim early on in the conversation that: ‘There’s some evidence that the Spanish football authorities are trying to identify the referees...and pay 
them.’ ↵⇥

↵⇥Later, while discussing where England might find support for its bid for the 2018 competition, against the eight other nations hoping to host it, he repeated the bizarre claims. ↵⇥

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↵⇥‘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. ↵⇥

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↵⇥‘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.’ ↵⇥

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↵⇥At this point, Miss Jacobs asks: ‘Would Russia help them with that?’ ↵⇥

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↵⇥Lord Triesman: ‘Oh, I think Russia will cut deals.’ ↵⇥

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↵⇥Miss Jacobs: ‘Why will Russia help? Are Russia in the World Cup?’ ↵⇥

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↵⇥Lord Triesman: ‘No, they’re not.’ ↵⇥

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↵⇥Miss Jacobs: ‘Oh no they’re not, they’ve got nothing to lose?’ ↵⇥

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↵⇥Lord Triesman: ‘Absolutely nothing at all to lose. Exactly.’ ↵⇥

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↵To recap: Triesman believes that England is doing well with some of the FIFA voters, yet fears that those in Latin America are leaning toward Spain. Spain, with a formidable side that has a great chance to win the World Cup in 2010, would drop out of the running for the 2018 Cup if Russia, who is not in the 2010 tournament, agrees to bribe some referees. Spain dropping out, in turn, would help Russia secure the 2018 World Cup bid. Triesman told all of this to his friend, and former lover, who taped the entire thing and sold it to a newspaper. It's that crazy. ↵

↵The BBC's David Bond addressed the details of how the Mail procured this story, with some reports indicating that they set up the entire sting with Jacobs. However, Bond claims that sources inside the FA say that the Mail denied organizing the sting, claiming that Jacobs showed up on their doorstep with the entire package and sold it to them. On the record, a PR consultant that helped Jacobs with this story denied that claim. ↵

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↵Either way, there is immense backlash for both Triesman and the Mail. Many in England are irate that the paper would harm the nation's World Cup bid by running this story. Bond does mention that at least one other publication was offered the story and passed for that specific reason. ↵

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↵As for Triesman, just a few days ago he was spending time at the FA Cup with actual royalty and now he's out of a job and mired in a salacious scandal with international ramifications. He has resigned, and FIFA has requested its ethics committee to investigate the matter. Per the BBC: ↵

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↵⇥"I want something decided before the World Cup," said [FIFA general secretary Jerome] Valcke. ↵⇥

↵⇥"It's good it's happening 20 days prior to the World Cup so it gives us time to make sure that all of this is wrong and that they are crazy allegations." ↵⇥

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↵Well, that sure does indicate how he's leaning, doesn't it? As for Triesman, he's completely backed off his recorded statements, telling reporters that, "[t]hose comments were never intended to be taken seriously as indeed is the case with many private conversations." ↵

↵For now, Triesman is gone, FIFA is looking into the matter and England has formally apologized to Spain and Russia. If the Spanish side starts to get some favorable calls next month, someone will be sitting at home saying "told you so." For now, what's the moral of this, and every story like this? Never. Trust. Your. Mistress. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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