Sunday, May 16, 2010

Another Bad Day for England

Yikes. England's World Cup players are almost certain to perform better for the nation than its officials have the past few days.

First there was the Mario Capello cash-for-ratings scandal noted in the item below.

Now we have this mess, Lord Triesman suggesting Spain will attempt to bribe referees at the World Cup. Which is a very serious charge that reflects badly on Spain, Russia (the country Lord Triesman suggested would work with Spain) and on Fifa, whose apparently referees are for sale.

What made this worse?

Lord Triesman was, until today, the leader of England's 2018 World Cup bid. He has resigned from that job but has kept his presidency of of the Football Association. For now.

Among generic soccer fans, the sense seems to be "it's time" for England to get the World Cup. The home ground of the game, the location of one of the two best leagues, hasn't hosted since 1966. In 2016? Sure.

But England officials can't seem to get out of their own way. A batch of gaffes let to the ascension of Lord Triesman, who was supposed to be the soul of discretion ... until a "friend" taped him speculating on Spain trying to cheat in 2010 South Africa.

To wit:

"There's some evidence that the Spanish football authorities are trying to identify the referees... and pay them," Triesman said, according to The Daily Mail on Sunday.

"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."

Uh. Yeah.

We all have heard stories/rumors of backroom dealing in the world of Fifa. With favorable judgments going to the highest bidder.

At the same time, bid leaders can't really be heard talking about corruption on tape.

But that is about 2018, and the damage it does to England's bid. Which is significant but not as pressing as other aspects of this story.

Specifically, it's out there now that England fears that Spain will cheat. Why Spain? Does Lord Triesman know something we don't? Is Spain known for this? Or is it just a team England fears?

An unfortunate story. Badly times. And like the Capello situation, it is a distraction when England ought to be focusing on South Africa and nothing else.

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