FA braces for second batch of Triesman tapes
Personal attack on 'greedy, corrupt' figures could hit efforts to repair 2018 bid at Champions League final
The Football Association is braced for the publication of a highly personalised attack on those at the top level of the game considered by Lord Triesman to be "greedy, corrupt and ignorant," with the deposed chairman's former aide Melissa Jacobs understood to be in two minds about whether to share more revelations from her recorded conversation with him.
The married Labour peer, with whom Ms Jacobs claims she was having an affair, is understood to have spoken at length to her about colleagues at the Football Association and at the top of the game in general and there are believed to be more anti-Russian comments from him, with suggestions of a Russian "mafia" at work at Roman Abramovich's Chelsea.
The FA's hopes that it had killed the issue by so swiftly removing Triesman as both its own and the 2018 bid chairman on Sunday, were dashed yesterday evening when Fifa unexpectedly demanded a full written report on his comments that Russia was going to help Spain bribe referees at this summer's World Cup. There was an air of desperation when the FA took the unusual step of invoking England's pursuit of the World Cup this summer as part of its plea to move on. "The gossip and the nonsense doesn't matter – we are now approaching the business end of the World Cup, where we actually have to perform on the field and that's all that matters," said acting chief executive, Alex Horne. Fifa, which forbids the discussion of rival bids by other prospective host countries, could conceivably throw out England's bid having concluded its inquiries, though that appears highly unlikely.
The new 2018 bid chairman Geoff Thompson met yesterday with bid chief executive Andy Anson and chief of staff Simon Greenberg while bid board member Sebastian Coe spoke by telephone with Fifa president Sepp Blatter.
But if Ms Jacobs decides to share more intimacies, it is possible that those remaining at the top level of the organisation may be tainted by their publication next Sunday, just 24 hours after Thompson's bid team attempts to salvage England's reputation by meeting Blatter and Spanish bid leader Angel Maria Villar Llona at Saturday's Champions League final between Bayern Munich and Internazionale in Madrid.
Though friends of Ms Jacobs said yesterday that she was surprised to find that Triesman had been removed so quickly from his positions, there seems to be no residual sympathy for the man who employed her as an aide when he was a minister at the Department for Innovation, Skills and Training. An interview which would furnish the Mail on Sunday with a second part to last Sunday's story has not yet taken place and the 37-year-old is said to be "50:50" as to whether she will proceed.
Friends suggested that Ms Jacob, who follows football and is an Arsenal supporter, has taken some satisfaction from knowing that an individual who was so negative about the game is no longer involved in the 2018 bid. But there is no denying that money was an objective: Ms Jacobs is believed to have earned £75,000 from Sunday's first tape-recorded revelations, in which Triesman's bribery allegations were made. Sources say that it was a desire to divert the focus from the sexual relationship she alleges to have had with the 66-year-old which led her to take a tape recorder into a one-hour meeting she had with him two weeks ago in an attempt to see the emphasis shift to football issues.
The Mail on Sunday must weigh up whether further revelations risk causing it unpopularity if the 2018 bid is further damaged. The Supporters' Direct and Football Supporters' Federation said that the bid had been "grievously endangered" by the paper, which did not respond to The Independent's inquiries on the issue yesterday. The FA's damage limitation exercise continues in Zurich today where director of football services Jonathan Hall will attend a meeting of the International Football Association Board at which Blatter and general secretary Jérôme Valcke will be present.
The prospect of further taped revelations raises the prospect of attacks both on the FA and Premier League personnel. Triesman enjoyed a less than harmonious relationship with some of fellow FA board members, including vice chairman Sir Dave Richards, and his relationship with the Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore had been a difficult one.
Ms Jacobs is understood to have approached the media adviser Max Clifford two months ago after the News of the World informed her that it had been made aware of her relationship with Triesman and said it wanted to buy her story.
Initially she said she did not want to cooperate and after an initial meeting with Clifford decided against selling her own story elsewhere to take control of the situation. But after further contact from the News of the World she decided to embark on what Triesman has since described as a "honeytrap" operation. Triesman has said that Ms Jacobs has "greatly exaggerated" the extent of their "friendship."
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