Lineker calls Qatar World Cup decision 'ludicrous'

BBC presenter calls on countries to boycott tournament in protest

Former England player Gary Lineker.
Former England player Gary Lineker.

Former England striker and BBC sports presenter Gary Lineker says “clean countries” should boycott the World Cup in protest over corruption allegations within FIFA, as he dismissed the football governing body’s decision to award the 2022 tournament to Qatar as “ludicrous”.

The 53-year-old, who played in two World Cups and scored 48 international goals for England, said he did not believe FIFA was up to the task of carrying out the corruption investigation into bribery in relation surrounding the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 tournaments to Russia and Qatar respectively.

“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.

“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,” he said in an interview with GQ magazine.

Findings of an investigation into the Qatari and Russian World Cup bids are likely to be announced in September, two months later than expected, FIFA announced last month.

The investigatory chamber of FIFA’s ethics committee, led by US attorney Michael Garcia, has spent more than a year travelling the world to interview those involved in the race to host the 2018 and 2022 tournaments and investigate allegations of bribery and corruption.

He has interviewed representatives from all nine of the bidding nations, including a summit with a Qatari delegation.

A fresh set of bribery allegations were made against a Qatari former member of FIFA's executive committee, Mohamed bin Hammam, by UK newspaper The Sunday Times in June.

It said that it had a cache of thousands of emails from Bin Hammam which showed that he operated a slush fund from which payments were made to garner votes from the heads of a number of African football federations.

However, Qatar's Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, said that it won its bid fairly by working harder than rivals.

Addressing the ongoing issues regarding Qatar and the debate about whether the staging of it should be moved to the winter to avoid the desert summer heat, Lineker said the original decision by FIFA to award it to the Gulf state was “ludicrous”.

“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.

“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.’

Last week, a report by Bank of America Merrill Lynch said Qatar would be facing a loss to its economy of around $16 billion if FIFA decided to strip the country of the 2022 World Cup as a result of recent bribery allegations. 

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