Platini stands up for Triesman and insists 2018 bid 'can recover'

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The Independent Football

The Uefa president Michel Platini has waded into the Lord Triesman controversy by offering his support to the peer who was forced to resign as chairman of the Football Association and England's 2018 World Cup bid after secret recordings were published.

Fifa's ethics committee are to investigate corruption claims about Spain and Russia made by Triesman in a private conversation to a friend, unaware he was being recorded.

Platini said the row may have damaged England's bid but insists it can recover – and believes that Triesman deserves support. The Uefa president, in Zurich for the International FA Board meeting, said: "I have a good friendship with Lord Triesman and I want to help him in his bad moment, for him as a person. I want to support my friend in this big problem. I think it is a bad thing that happened to him."

Platini said the controversy could have harmed England's bid but that under Triesman's successor Geoff Thompson – a Uefa and Fifa vice-president – the campaign could recover before the vote by Fifa's executive committee is taken on 2 December.

Asked if the bid had been damaged, Platini said: "Maybe yes, I think you need the people who vote on your side. But for the bid Geoff Thompson is a good guy, England is a great country and of course it can recover and survive this."

Triesman was recorded telling a female friend that Spain would support Russia's bid for the 2018 World Cup in return for help bribing referees in South Africa. After the details were published in a Sunday newspaper he immediately stood down from his roles with both the FA and the bid.

England 2018 will begin the rebuilding process with Fifa in earnest this week, when Thompson will speak to Sepp Blatter, Platini, and Spanish federation president Angel Villar Llona before the Champions League final in Madrid on Saturday. Fifa general secretary Jerome Valcke said he wanted a speedy investigation to ensure the corruption claims were just "crazy allegations".

Valcke has referred the case to the ethics committee, both to investigate Triesman's comments about Spain and Russia and to determine if any action should be taken against England's 2018 bid. Valcke said: "I want definitely to have something decided before the World Cup because some of the comments were about the World Cup. It has to be quick. We are looking at the content of the allegations because it was about the World Cup and the bids, and also on Lord Triesman and the way he made these statements.

"It's good that 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."

Valcke said it was up to the ethics committee to decide who should be called to give evidence. He added: "We are waiting for various statements, the ethics committee will decide which person they want to hear and which people they want to invite for a hearing."

Another Fifa executive member, Marios Lefkaritis from Cyprus, said England's bid could have been badly affected by the Triesman controversy.

Lefkaritis, who added that it was "evil" to have Triesman taped without his knowledge, said: "I know from my own experience sometimes you have the best and suddenly you destroy yourself, which is a tragedy."

Sebastian Coe, the London 2012 Olympics chairman and England 2018 board member, reiterated that the controversy will not be fatal to England's chances. Coe said: "It is a strong bid. It will survive. This has been a traumatic thing to have happened but the foundation stones of a good bid are in place.

"This is not having to change plans, ripping up a bid book. This is about continuing to present the bid and let the majority of the members know the quality of the bid and our thinking. Not very much has altered."

The 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 Fifa to "take appropriate measures".

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