Lineker urges 'clean' countries to boycott World Cup in Qatar

Lineker urges 'clean' countries to boycott World Cup in Qatar

Published Aug. 4, 2014 5:52 a.m. ET

TV presenter and former England striker Gary Lineker has claimed he feels sick at alleged corruption within FIFA and labelled the decision to play the 2022 World Cup in Qatar as "ludicrous".

Lineker was part of England's bid team for the 2018 tournament won by Russia, and insists that England should not bid again if the only way to win is by bending the rules.

In an interview with GQ magazine, Lineker said: "I was with David Beckham having a burger the night before the Qatar decision. We were out trying to get support; Prince William and David Cameron were out there, too, and I said to Becks, 'We are the only country doing this. The whole thing smells; it is a done deal.'"

"It makes you feel sick, actually, the whole FIFA thing, the corruption at the top level is nauseating. Sepp Blatter likewise has run it like a dictatorship for so long and he comes out with so much nonsense."


Asked about the decision to stage the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, Lineker, now one of the BBC's top sport presenters, replied: "Ludicrous. I am not against it going to different parts of the world, but you'd have thought they might have known it would be very hot in summer. You have to be careful what you say, but the corruption is just... yuk."

Lineker suggested the only way of changing FIFA was for 'clean' countries to boycott the World Cup but acknowledged that will not happen.

Asked if he sees FIFA as corrupt and not fit for purpose, Lineker said: "Yes, and it is such a shame because it is a massive sport and means so much to so many people.

"(England) are too straight, in a way - and I am not saying that as a criticism. We should stand up for what is right and if that means never hosting the World Cup again, fine.

"The only way it might change is for the clean countries to turn around and say, 'You know what, we are not taking part in your tournaments'. But I can't see it happening. There is too much at stake."

Lineker also called for restrictions on advertising by gambling firms and alcohol products related to football.

He said: "I have turned down deals with alcohol firms over the years. I do not agree with it.

"The other thing that worries me is all the betting advertising and sponsorship in sport. All you ever see is commercials for gambling and apps, it is really dangerous, and I think we need to do something about both of them, alcohol and gambling.

"Gambling is just too easy to do now, and as a parent I worry about it, all those ads bombarding you with in-play betting."

Lineker advertises a crisps brand but insists those "do no harm at all" claiming obesity "is as much about exercise" as diet.

The former Tottenham, Barcelona and Leicester forward also believes that English football is finally making the changes to catch up with other countries in terms of technical ability.

He added: "It is changing, though - finally we are getting used to seeing smaller pitches, smaller goals. If you have 22 tiny kids on a full-sized pitch, the only way to get to the other end is boot it as hard as you can.

"It doesn't encourage passing, dribbling; kids do not learn technique like that. Also, there is a culture of fear put on us by parents ranting at the sidelines, 'Boot it; get stuck in,' - all this nonsense, this obsession with winning an under-eights match, which is absurd.

"It makes the kids treat the ball like it is a bomb - get rid of it before it blows up. Things are getting better though, with the academies."