Gary Lineker has admitted he thought about boycotting his BBC World Cup duties in Qatar and decided to play no part in the draw after being asked. The World Cup is set to get underway next Sunday, with England playing their first match against Iran a day later.
Qatar was handed the World Cup back in 2010 after receiving overwhelming support from FIFA’s executive committee. But the tournament has been shrouded in controversy due to the country’s stance on same-sex relationships, their human rights record and their treatment of migrant workers.
A whole host of ex-players and celebrities have spoken out against the World Cup in recent years. And with the biggest stars in world football about to descend on Qatar, Lineker has revealed his thoughts about the tournament to the i newspaper.
“I thought about boycotting the World Cup but we’re there to report on it, not support it,” the Match of the Day presenter told the publication. And he added: “I was asked to do the draw for the finals but I didn’t because that would make me hypocritical.”
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These days, Lineker hosts the BBC’s coverage of the World Cup, and will soon be heading out to Qatar. But away from the television screen, the 61-year-old has amassed quite the following on Twitter in recent years. And he’s come to blows with a number of his followers after expressing his views on all walks of life. “My Twitter account annoys a lot of people – but they’re generally the right people to annoy,” he continued.
And the former striker has also given his thoughts on Gareth Southgate’s decision to include James Maddison in the Three Lions squad for Qatar. “Maddison is our best player on current form,” he added.
England reached the semi-finals of the World Cup in Russia four years ago and are among the favourites to lift the trophy this time around. After facing off with Iran in their opener, the Three Lions take on USA four days later, before playing Wales the following week.