By NBF News
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Lord Triesman is to stand down as chairman of the England 2018 World Cup bid, BBC Sport understands.

However he is not leaving his role as chairman of the Football Association.

Triesman acted after the Mail on Sunday said he suggested Spain could end its bid if rival bidder Russia helped bribe referees at this summer's World Cup.

The 2018 team has already faxed apology letters to the Russian and Spanish FAs and the bid is undertaking a “major damage limitation exercise”.

The Mail on Sunday claims http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1278706/FA-chief-Lord-Triesman-Spain-bid-bribe-World-Cup-referees.html to have obtained a secretly tape-recorded conversation of Triesman talking to a former aide.

The revelations come just two days after former England captain David Beckham helped the FA submit a 1,752-page bid book as they try to persuade Fifa to award England the 2018 World Cup.

Speaking about Triesman's decision to step down, new Sports Minister Hugh Robertson told the BBC: “It is absolutely the right decision to take.

“Our top priority as a new government is to win this bid for the country and I am delighted they have acted as quickly and decisively as they have done.

“All is not lost, we would rather we weren't dealing with the situation but it is better that it has happened now, so soon after handing over the bid book, rather than two three months out.

“It is not good for the organisation and it would be ludicrous to pretend otherwise but the fundamentals that underpin the bid are as strong as ever and will be remembered long after this unfortunate event is forgotten.”

The FA has so far refused to comment.
Apart from the damage to the standing of Triesman and the FA that may be created within the Fifa corridors of power by the Mail on Sunday's reported bribery allegation, the world governing body's rules prohibit World Cup bidders from talking about rival bids.

Triesman was quoted in the article as saying: “Spain are looking for help…to bribe the referees”.

And BBC Radio 5 live's sports news correspondent Gordon Farquhar said: “The FA did try and fail to get an injunction against publication of the story on privacy grounds.

“The story makes uncomfortable reading. The FA and 2018 bid chairman was seemingly unaware his unguarded comments in a private conversation were being recorded.

“Most damaging is his apparent speculation about possible collusion between Spain and Russia to bribe referees in South Africa.

“He reportedly suggests in return for Russian help in targeting officials, Spain could drop out of the race to stage the 2018 World Cup.

“There's likely to be a furious reaction from both the Spanish and Russian FAs.”

On Friday, Fifa chief Sepp Blatter spoke in glowing terms of England's 2018 bid which includes 12 towns and cities from Sunderland to Plymouth, calling it “the easiest bid in the world” – but also described the plans put forward by Russia as “remarkable”.

After the good publicity that was generated by the 2018 team and Beckham on Friday it remains to be seen what effect Triesman's reported comments are likely to have on the FA's 2018 bid.

From its inception the bid has been troubled by infighting with senior members resigning from the board while Triesman's leadership has also been questioned.

In October the 2018 bid was criticised by Fifa vice-president Jack Warner and Danny Jordaan, who led South Africa's successful 2010 campaign.

A month later former Birmingham City director Karren Brady, who was one of six board members to stand down, said that England's hopes of hosting the 2018 World Cup were in danger of being undermined by internal politics among the bid team.

David Beckham hands Sepp Blatter the England 2018 World Cup bid book

In November a senior member of Fifa's executive committee returned a handbag given to his wife as a gift by the England bidding team.

The latest story was taken from a conversation Triesman reportedly had with a former civil servant aide.

The Mail on Sunday quotes Triesman as saying: “There's some evidence that the Spanish football authorities are trying to identify the referees…and pay them.

“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.”

A European bid is tipped to get the 2018 tournament with England up against Russia and joint bids from Spain/Portugal and Belgium/Netherlands.

The other bidders, although they are mainly focused on the 2022 tournament, are Australia, the United States, Japan, Qatar and South Korea.

In the reported tape recorded conversation with former aide Melissa Jacobs, Triesman also talks openly about the John Terry scandal, the governance of Premier League football clubs and criticises former Prime Minister Gordon Brown's election campaign as “awful.”

Triesman reportedly said ex-England captain Terry did not feel he had done anything wrong over his affair with former club and country team-mate Wayne Bridge's former partner, Vanessa Perroncel.