FIFA critic Lineker defends taking WC draw gig

Ian Watson

Gary Lineker has been confirmed as co-host for the 2018 World Cup finals draw in Moscow next month.

The former England striker, who now works as a sports presenter for the BBC and BT, tweeted to say he was “delighted and honoured” to be hosting the draw on December 1 alongside Russian sports journalist Maria Komandnaya, despite having been a strong critic of world governing body FIFA.

In a 2014 interview with GQ magazine, Lineker accused the organisation of behaving like a dictatorship with “nauseating” levels of “corruption”, and described the decision to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar as “ludicrous”.

Lineker and Komandnaya will be aided at the draw in Moscow’s State Kremlin Palace by eight draw assistants, one of whom will be the former USSR World Cup star Nikita Simonyan.

In a FIFA statement, Lineker said: “As a player, I was fortunate enough to take part in the World Cup finals on two occasions.

“It is quite special to be involved in yet another tournament – now on the stage, unveiling the results of the draw. I have been on the other side, waiting to find out my opponents, and I know how exciting this occasion is.”

England will be in the second of four pots, which means they could be drawn in an opening group alongside one of Germany, Brazil or Argentina.