Spain brand Triesman comments 'ridiculous'

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The Independent Online

Spanish football federation secretary general Jorge Perez Arias has labelled the idea of his country trying to bribe World Cup referees as "ridiculous".

England's hopes of hosting the 2018 tournament were dealt a blow yesterday after Triesman said the Spanish and Russian football federations were contemplating bribery.

The 66-year-old, who yesterday quit as chairman of both England's bid and the Football Association, 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 2018 World Cup if they were to help.

Arias, who heads Spain's joint bid with Portugal to host the World Cup in eight years' time, and Portuguese FA president Gilberto Madail have since shrugged off such suggestions.

Quoted by the Daily Telegraph, Perez Arias said: "The idea Spain is trying to bribe World Cup referees is, of course, ridiculous. We like to compete and participate fairly and try always to do the best we can.

"Fortunately we've now been qualifying for the final phases of the Euro and World Cup competitions for several years now.

"We were able to arm a good team that had the fortune and skill to win Euro 2008 and we're going to South Africa wanting to do the best possible.

"It's as simple as that for us.

"As far as 2018 goes, we're trying to progress our bid to host the competition with Portugal. If we win that would be wonderful and if another country is chosen, we'd be happy as well because all the candidates are good ones."

Madail added: "This kind of story is indicative of an uneasiness on the part of England.

"These stories are absurd and unfounded. They have no effect whatsoever on our joint bid. We are in absolute harmony with Spain until the end."

FIFA are yet to comment on the matter. However, the chief of Russia's bid, Aleksey Sorokin, has 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.

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