Much has been made by the state of the turf at Wembley in recent months. In the FA cup semi-final Tottenham fell victim to the surface when Michael Dawson slipped in his attempt to block a shot from Portsmouth’s Frederic Piquionne – a shot which fired the south coast club into the final.
The final fell at the end of a week in which David Beckham presented England’s 2018 World Cup bid in the form of a 1,752- page book to FIFA president Sepp Blatter. Many may have anticipated tabloid headlines condemning the state of the Wembley pitch and questioning its ability to host a World Cup.
The FA Cup Final ran without incident. The high profile slip that many expected was reserved for Lord Triesman, then chairman of England’s 2018 World Cup bid.
The FA attempted to secure a last minute injunction to prevent the Mail on Sunday from publishing comments made by Lord Triesman, according to the paper. Triesman was recorded as saying: “There’s some evidence that the Spanish football authorities are trying to identify the referees…and pay them.
“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”
Chairman of the London 2012 Olympics, Lord Coe sits on the 2018 bid board. He said: “This has been a traumatic 48 hours but this does not become a bad bid overnight.
“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.
Lord Coe was clearly not talking about the pitch.
“The only thing we don’t have is the private views of the former chairman.”
Aleksey Sorokin, the head of Russia’s bid, has rallied on FIFA to “take appropriate measures” over Lord Triesman’s revelations.
It is not the first time we hear something absurd being directed towards us…It’s a sign that we are going in the right direction that the quality of our bid leaves no other alternative for our competitors but to bring up these absurd allegations.”
Jorge Perez Arias, head of Spain’s joint bid with Portugal said: “I don’t believe Lord Triesman has said something like this. Mr Triesman and the FA are excellent. We have a superb relationship with them and I just don’t believe what’s being reported.
“The idea Spain is trying to bribe World Cup referees is of course ridiculous. We like to compete and participate fairly and try always to do the best we can.
Portuguese FA president Gilberto Madail added: “This kind of story is indicative of an uneasiness on the part of England. These stories are absurd and unfounded.”
Geoff Thompson has now been appointed to replace Lord Triesman as chairman of England’s bid following his resignation. Lord Triesman also resigned as FA chairman – a post Lord Sugar has shown interest in.