Fifa to investigate Triesman comments

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The Independent Football

Lord Triesman's alleged comments about England's rival bidders for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup are to come under further scrutiny after football's world governing body announced this evening that the FIFA ethics committee will investigate the statements.

Triesman stepped down as England's 2018 bid chairman following allegations he accused the Spanish and Russian football federations of bribery.

The 66-year-old, who also vacated the same role with the Football Association, announced his decision following a hastily-arranged meeting with the FA board at Wembley yesterday afternoon and was replaced by Geoff Thompson, the British FIFA vice-president.

However, despite his swift departure, the fallout appears set to continue after FIFA's announcement this evening.

A FIFA statement read: "FIFA can confirm that FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke has requested the FIFA ethics committee to examine the alleged statements made by Lord Triesman in relation to the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups."

Triesman allegedly told a former aide that Spain were planning to bribe referees at this summer's World Cup and offer their support to Russia's bid for the 2022 World Cup if they were to help.

The England 2018 World Cup bid team faxed letters of apology to both associations as they attempted to minimise the damage caused, while FA board members David Sheepshanks and Roger Burden have been drafted in as acting joint chairmen of the national governing body.

However, FIFA are not yet satisfied by the prompt action of the FA and have requested a report into the affair.

The FIFA statement continued: "In addition, FIFA has sent a letter to The Football Association asking The FA to provide a report on this matter, including Lord Triesman's position.

"FIFA will not make any further comment on this matter until it has been dealt with by the FIFA ethics committee."

Spanish football federation secretary general Jorge Perez Arias labelled the idea of his country trying to bribe World Cup referees as "ridiculous", while the head of Russia's bid, Aleksey Sorokin, called for football's governing body to "take appropriate measures".

The England 2018 World Cup bid team faxed letters of apology to both Spanish and Russian associations as they attempted to minimise the damage caused.

Geoff Thompson has replaced Triesman as head of the England 2018 World Cup bid team while FA board members David Sheepshanks and Roger Burden have been drafted in as joint acting chairmen of the FA.

Meanwhile, minister for sport and the Olympics Hugh Robertson is certain England's bid team can recover and earn worldwide support ahead of the decision on who will host the showpiece event.

"I don't think anybody would pretend it's been particularly helpful," Robertson told BBC Radio Five Live.

"But London 2012 went through exactly this process. You may remember there was an extraordinarily unhelpful Panorama programme that attacked the entire integrity of the ICC. After that, London 2012 were told that their bid was dead, but they overcame that.

"Whatever Lord Triesman may or may not have said, he didn't attack Sepp Blatter personally, or the entire integrity of either FIFA or UEFA.

"In some ways this is an offence of a much lesser order."

Sebastian Coe, chairman of the London 2012 Olympics, also insists England's World Cup bid still has "solid foundations".

Coe is also on the 2018 bid board and he and fellow 2012 veteran Sir Keith Mills spent the weekend formulating a rescue plan.

Coe is understood to have briefed FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke and will speak to FIFA president Sepp Blatter about the situation.

"This has been a traumatic 48 hours but this does not become a bad bid overnight," Coe told Press Association Sport.

"Solid foundations are in place, we have the best venues, the most passionate fans, the best market for sponsors and an unparalleled ability to deliver this tournament in safe and secure surroundings.

"The only thing we don't have is the private views of the former chairman."

And Former England keeper Peter Shilton added: "I don't think it will have any real impact in the long term with the bid. One person does not make a bid.

"Everybody makes mistakes, it has happened in the past and will happen in the future.

"I am part of the World Cup bid, and feel it does not take anything away.

"Things do die down, and it is the actual substance of the case, which I think is very strong for us to host the World Cup, is what will be the deciding factor."