LONDON (AP) — The chairman of England's bid to host the World Cup resigned Sunday after making bribery allegations against 2018 campaign rivals Spain and Russia.
David Triesman, who is also chairman of the English Football Association, was secretly taped by The Mail on Sunday newspaper suggesting Spain was planning to bribe referees at this year's World Cup with the help of Russia, which didn't qualify.
"It's entirely right that he should stand down and that the action should have been taken as quickly as is the case," Britain's new sports minister Hugh Robertson told Sky Sports News.
England's World Cup bid team also faxed letters of apology to the Spanish and Russian soccer federations as well as FIFA, insisting it doesn't support the bid chairman's allegations.
Triesman had joined former England captain David Beckham at FIFA headquarters in Zurich on Friday to hand over England's official bid book to president Sepp Blatter.
"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," Robertson said. "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."
The Mail on Sunday taped Triesman making a series of allegations about England's bid rivals while talking two weeks ago with Melissa Jacobs, a former aide from his time as a government minister.
"I think the Africans we are doing very well with (winning their votes), I think we're doing kind of well with some of the Asians. Probably doing well with Central and North America," Triesman was quoted as saying. "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."
Triesman then added that "I think Russia will cut deals," claiming the Russians have "absolutely nothing at all to lose."
Alexey Sorokin, chief executive of Russia's bid, said he "will not even comment on the accusations."
"We hope that FIFA will take appropriate measures itself without our motions," Sorokin told Sky News.
Spain's soccer federation refused to comment.
In Europe, Spain is bidding jointly with Portugal to host either the 2018 or 2022 World Cup as are Belgium and Netherlands, while England and Russia are standing alone. Australia and the United States are also bidding for either tournament, while Japan, Qatar and South Korea are concentrating on 2022, believing Europe is favored for 2018.
FIFA's 24-man executive committee will decide the hosts for both tournaments in a vote in December.
Triesman had told a briefing earlier in the week that he hoped England would succeed in Cup bidding by running a fair campaign.
"I don't believe you can ever be too clean," he said. "I've said from the beginning — and I know it's true of everybody involved in this team — that we would not try and earn it by means that we would be ashamed of. We just wouldn't do it."
During his meeting with Jacobs, the newspaper reports that Triesman discussed stripping John Terry of the England captaincy for an alleged affair with a teammate's former partner. The report also claims Triesman commented on former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's election campaign failures.