UK & World News

  • 11 June 2014, 13:28

England Should Sacrifice World Cup, Says Lineker

One of England's most famous footballers has said officials should stand up to Sepp Blatter, even if it costs the country any chance of staging the World Cup again.

Gary Lineker said sacrificing any future bid for the tournament by holding the Fifa president to account over corruption claims is a "price worth paying".

The former striker, who holds the record for the most number of goals scored by an English player at a World Cup finals, made his comments in a tweet after FA boss Greg Dyke urged Mr Blatter not to stand for re-election.

"Good that Dyke stood up to Blatter," the ex-Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur player wrote.

"If making a stand damages our chances of ever getting the World Cup, so be it. A price worth paying."

Allegations of corruption surrounding the 2022 World Cup in Qatar have overshadowed the build-up to this year's tournament, which gets under way in Brazil on Thursday.

It is claimed Qatar used its political connections and natural gas wealth to help win the right to host the event four years ago.

Mr Blatter, who is expected to confirm he will stand for a fifth term as president of football's world governing body later, claimed the comments were motivated by racism.

However, in an interview with Sky Sports News, Mr Dyke said: "The allegations being made are nothing to do with racism. They are allegations about corruption.

"Fifa is a suspect organisation where there has been an awful lot of corruption."

Asked about the presidential election next year, he added: "It's probably time for change."

Uefa executive committee member David Gill also said the Fifa president should stand down next year.

"I think we need a full, frank and open debate about what Fifa needs going forward," he added.

Their comments were backed by Michael van Praag, the head of the Dutch football association, as the first signs of a revolt against Mr Blatter emerged.

"When people talk about Fifa, they talk about corruption (and) bribery," he said.

"Yes, Blatter is leading reforms but he was also in charge when it went wrong and he has to bear responsibility for that."

Sky Sports pundit and ex-Southampton midfielder Matt Le Tissier said Mr Blatter should "let someone with the best interests of football at heart take over", while several newspaper columnists came out in support of his critics.

Matt Lawton, chief sports writer at the Daily Mail, said: "Credit should go to Greg Dyke today for the way he stood up to Blatter here in Sao Paulo. One of only two who had the balls to do it."

The Daily Telegraph's Paul Hayward added: "Shame it took the media to force Uefa's hand."