World Cup controversy – England vs Spain and Russia

By Michael Vass | May 16, 2010

With the World Cup less than a month away a bombshell has hit. Coming from England is an accusation that no nation would want made about their teams. But like many such statements, there may be truth in it.

The controversy comes from a taped private conversation between David Triesman, chairman of The Football Association and England’s World Cup bid team prior to this conversation becoming public, and Melissa Jacobs, a former aide. It seems that Jacobs taped Triesman discussing his view of Spain and Russia’s chances of gaining the 2018 World Cup. That tape was then given to the Mail, a british newspaper. David Triesman stated in part,

“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. 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 had no choice but to quit after this was made public. He has said that his comments were not serious. He has also denounced his former aide.

Given that private conversations deserve to be kept private, and that secretly taping an individual gives rise to the thought that there is an entrapment involved. Still, accusations of bribing referees is not a new thing to the World Cup. Many comments have come up over the years, such as when the World Cup was last held in France. But never has such a prominent figure in soccer (futbol) been connected to such rumors (to my knowledge).

Considering this controversy, the fallout will be huge. Fans of Spain, England, and Russia will surely be watching every match for each of the teams – looking for missed calls or preferential treatment of any sort. Without question, at least 1 match for each will be a firestorm of accusation from fans. This will be an even greater issue if England and/or Spain are in the finals.

In addition this places huge pressure on FIFA in regard to the 2018 World Cup bidding. England is always a strong choice, with support from much of the world. But this controversy could not only eliminate England, it could take the Cup out of Europe altogether.

Perhaps the most sad aspect of this is the way it introduces international politics into the one truly international competition in the world. That, and the disrespect that is a friend betraying another. It’s more than bad business.

Will this all effect the World Cup in South Africa next month? Could this alter the ooutcome of a critical match? How will fans react in South Africa and across the world? In less than 30 days we will have all the answers.

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