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Geoff Thompson named 2018 World Cup bid chairman

Geoff Thompson (second left)
Thompson (second left) was part of the England 2018 team which delivered the bid book to Fifa on Friday

Ex-Football Association chairman Geoff Thompson has been appointed chairman of England's 2018 World Cup bid team after Lord Triesman resigned on Sunday.

Triesman was caught up in a newspaper sting suggesting Spain could drop its bid if rival bidder Russia helped bribe referees at this summer's World Cup.

Thompson is vice-president of world football's governing body Fifa.

And fellow 2018 board member Sebastian Coe insists the bid can overcome the setback of Triesman's abrupt departure.

Coe, who masterminded the 2005 campaign to bring the Olympic Games to London, has devised a rescue plan for the 2018 bid.

Damage to World Cup bid 'not fatal'

"It has been traumatic but it does not become a bad bid overnight," said Coe.

"Solid foundations are in place: we have the best venues, the most passionate fans, the best market for sponsors and an unparalleled ability to deliver this tournament in safe and secure surroundings.

"The only thing we don't have is the private views of the former chairman."

Thompson is well known in the upper reaches of football administration, having previously served as FA chairman for nine years before Triesman.

The 64-year-old is also vice-president of European football's governing body Uefa and was part of the five-man delegation that presented England's bid book to Fifa in Zurich on Friday.

Coe, who is a lifelong Chelsea fan, has already briefed Fifa general secretary Jerome Valcke and is set to speak to president Sepp Blatter on Monday.

An FA delegation will also attend a meeting of the International FA board (the body which oversees the laws of football) in Zurich on Tuesday.

DAVID BOND'S BLOG

Meanwhile, Coe - along with Thompson, 2018 chief executive Andy Anson, 2012 official Sir Keith Mills and other board members and bid executives - will continue talking to Fifa to explain the circumstances behind Triesman's departure.

Double Olympic gold medallist Coe took leave of absence from his position as chairman of Fifa's ethics committee in February 2009 after he was appointed as a non-executive member of the bid board.

Mills, the deputy chairman of the London Organising Committee and a Tottenham director, stepped down from the 2018 bid board when it was streamlined late last year.

Russian bid chief Alexey Sorokin responded by describing the allegations as "absurd" and urged Fifa to "take appropriate measures" ahead of the decision on who will host the showpiece event, which is expected to be made in December.

England fans 'fed up' with press

But former England keeper Peter Shilton believes there will be no long-term impact on the World Cup bid.

"One person does not make a bid," said Shilton, who holds a record 125 England appearances and is an ambassador for the 2018 bid.

"Everybody makes mistakes, it has happened in the past and will happen in the future.

"I am part of the World Cup bid, and feel it does not take anything away.

"Things do die down, and it is the actual substance of the case, which I think is very strong for us to host the World Cup, is what will be the deciding factor."

Triesman was secretly recorded allegedly divulging sensitive information to a former aide, including a claim that Spain and Russia, rival bidders for the 2018 World Cup, were conspiring to bribe referees at next month's finals as part of efforts to win the right to host the tournament.

The former Labour peer accused the Mail on Sunday newspaper of engaging in "entrapment" tactics in order to cause him personal embarrassment.

Lord Triesman resigns as FA chairman

"In that conversation I commentated on speculation circulating about conspiracies around the world," said Triesman.

"Those comments were never intended to be taken seriously as indeed is the case with many private conversations."

Before Triesman's unwanted spell in the headlines England's 2018 World Cup candidacy was generally viewed as having a good chance of success.

But the bid team now faces an uphill task to persuade Fifa's executive to award them the event for the first time since 1966.

Triesman has also resigned as FA chairman and will be replaced by board members David Sheepshanks and Roger Burden who will be drafted in as acting joint-chairmen.

The revelations came only two days after the FA submitted their 1,752-page bid book to try to persuade Fifa to award England the 2018 event.

2018 BID TEAM BOARD
Geoff Thompson - chairman
Andy Anson - chief executive
Brian Mawhinney
Paul Elliott
Lord Sebastian Coe

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.

And the new the minister for sport and the Olympics, Hugh Robertson, is certain England's bid team can recover.

"I don't think anybody would pretend it's been particularly helpful," Robertson told BBC Radio 5 live.

"But London 2012 went through exactly this process. You may remember there was an extraordinarily unhelpful Panorama programme that attacked the entire integrity of the IOC.

"After that, London 2012 were told that their bid was dead but they overcame that.

COMMENT FROM PAPERS AND BLOGS

"Whatever Lord Triesman may or may not have said, he didn't attack Sepp Blatter personally, or the entire integrity of either Fifa or Uefa.

"In some ways this is an offence of a much lesser order."

As for the validity of the reported claims from Triesman, Robertson said: "Nothing I have heard at any stage in the process, either in opposition or in Government, suggests there is any truth in these allegations whatsoever."



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see also
Triesman quits FA & 2018 Cup jobs
16 May 10 |  Football
World Cup bids head-to-head
17 Oct 10 |  Football
Beckham hands over 2018 Cup bid
14 May 10 |  Football
Nelson backs 2018 World Cup bid
13 May 10 |  London
Japan abandons 2018 World Cup bid
04 May 10 |  Football
Morrisons backs 2018 England bid
22 Feb 10 |  Business
Beckham leads 2018 bid in South Africa
03 Dec 09 |  Football
England 2018 bid team streamlined
12 Nov 09 |  Football
2018 bid chief calls for humility
18 May 09 |  Football
Triesman calls for World Cup bid support
18 May 09 |  Internationals
England submits back-up 2022 bid
16 Mar 09 |  Internationals
Coe joins 2018 World Cup bid team
18 Feb 09 |  Football
Fifa unveils 2022 World Cup plan
20 Dec 08 |  Internationals


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