6 Dec 2010

World Cup 2018: Ex-FA chairman calls for inquiry

The man who resigned as head of England’s bid for the 2018 World Cup after being taped talking about possible bribery tells Channel 4 News he would reveal the inside story to an inquiry.

Interviewed by Jon Snow, Lord Triesman – who resigned as chairman of the Football Association in May – said he was prepared to give evidence to any inquiry into allegations surrounding the decision by the world football authority, FIFA, to award the World Cup 2018 to Russia.

“I am a strong supporter of there being a proper and full investigation, because I don’t think a body like FIFA – which has such cultural importance and strength around the world because of the power of football itself – I don’t think it should be immune from a review of personal conduct,” he said.

Asked if he was aware of anyone in the “top echelon” of the Football Association being asked for money, he replied: “I think a full account – and I want to be very careful about this, Jon, because I think that it is the sort of information that I would (if there is an inquiry) want to provide to an inquiry – I think that a full account of it will draw out those facts.

“There would be facts that I would be prepared to tell an inquiry…It would be as accurate and as full as I could make it.”

And asked if it was possible to win a World Cup bid without bribery, he added: “If you include in ‘bribery’ spreading money around some of the Federations for whatever their local ambitions are, I doubt it.”

No review

The General Secretary of FIFA – Jerome Valcke – said today that there would be no review of the system of voting for the World Cup host country in future.

“The matter is closed. We dealt very well with the two that were caught…There is no need to be ashamed.” FIFA Gen Secretary Jerome Valcke

This year, the committee had been cut to 22 members from the usual 24 after two were suspended by the ethics committee following an investigation into corruption allegations.

“The 22 members were in a room with a lawyer and an official. Each one got up to vote with a ballot paper which had a stamp from the lawyer. It is normal that the vote be secret”, he said.

Former FA chairman Lord Triesman (Reuters)

“The matter is closed. We dealt very well with the two that were caught. We reacted well to the situation. The members were suspended. There is no need to be ashamed.”

But Lord Triesman said an inquiry into other corruption allegations was still necessary.

“What I don’t think anybody can do in this day and age is to say we are not investigating, we are not interested and we don’t like people saying it,” he said. “You would never uncover any corruption that way.”

Although he believed the allegations of corruption levelled by the Sunday Times and the BBC Panorama programme against members of the FIFA board had made a difference to the reception of the England bid, Lord Triesman thought it was only a small difference, as the “key decisions” among a number of the 22 voters had been made two to three months earlier.

“I thought it was enormously hard to win a bid from England because there was little doubt in my mind there was a good deal of hostility to England,” he said. “I thought there was an arrangement which you could just see the edges of which would make it really difficult to win.

“What I don’t think anybody can do in this day and age is to say we are not investigating, we are not interested and we don’t like people saying it.” Lord Triesman

“I had little doubt when we were maybe four to five months out from the final – I was no longer directly involved, but watching it – that the result would be the one that we saw.”

Lord Triesman said that if the main criterion in the selection of hosts was to spread the tournament – and football – to new countries and societies, then England would probably not have bid for 2018 and should probably not do so in the foreseeable future.

But there was no possibility of England withdrawing from FIFA, because that would also mean withdrawing from the European football authority – UEFA – which would make English clubs ineligible for such tournaments as the Champions League.