Lineker calls for World Cup boycott over Fifa 'corruption'

Aug 4, 2014

Football's governing body is 'nauseating' and Sepp Blatter is a 'dictator', says presenter

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Gary Lineker has said the only way to root out corruption within Fifa is for the "clean" countries to boycott the World Cup. In an interview with GQ magazine, the former England striker turned television presenter, painted football's governing body in a poor light, saying: "It makes you feel sick, actually, the whole Fifa thing, the corruption at the top level is nauseating. [Fifa president] Sepp Blatter likewise has run it like a dictatorship for so long and he comes out with so much nonsense."

Lineker singled out for particular criticism the voting process for the 2018 World Cup, a tournament that will be staged in Russia after they beat off a number of rival bids including one from England. Lineker was part of the Football Association's bid team and he described the experience as dispiriting: "We were out trying to get support; Prince William and David Cameron were out there, too, and I said to Becks [David Beckham]: 'We are the only country doing this. The whole thing smells; it is a done deal.'"

Lineker also mocked Qatar's successful bid to stage the 2022 World Cup, a Fifa decision that continues to court controversy with allegations of large-scale bribery among high-ranking officials.

"Ludicrous" was how Lineker described the idea of hosting the world's greatest football tournament in one of the hottest countries on the planet that has little football tradition." 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."

Asked if he regarded Fifa as corrupt and not fit for purpose, Lineker replied: "Yes, and it is such a shame because it is a massive sport and means so much to so many people." The Match of the Day presenter proposed one course of action to root out this perceived corruption though he is pessimistic as to its chances of success: "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... [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."

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