James Lawton: Lineker should look rather closer to home if he wishes to express some moral outrage

We are told that he was deeply anxious about the effect on his image of writing a column for the News of the World

Am I the only one for whom Gary Lineker's late, headline intrusion into the News of the World phone-hacking suicide did not immediately put in mind St Joan of Arc going to the stake for the sake of her principles?

In many ways Lineker is of course an admirable figure. His superb career in an England shirt was a genuine example not only of brilliant scoring technique but authentic rectitude. At the sharpest end of the game he came closest to breaking Sir Bobby Charlton's scoring record and with not so much as a single yellow card.

Now, we are told, he was deeply anxious about the detrimental effect on his image – and perhaps also his ability to sell potato crisps – of continuing to write a football column for the newspaper closed yesterday by owners with no stomach for the fight they had ducked for so long.

However, Lineker should perhaps understand that he was not exactly operating from a position of unimpeachable moral strength.

This conclusion is prompted by the fact that it was only last year that he resigned from another newspaper.

On that occasion it was not because the Mail on Sunday had produced a sustained assault on what most rational human beings, including no doubt many highly professional and self-respecting employees of the News of the World, would consider common decency but for compromising his position as an ambassador for England's inglorious failure to host the 2018 World Cup.

Lineker's main complaint was that by revealing the relationship of former FA chairman Lord Triesman with a younger woman, and more significantly his belief that the Fifa bidding process was riddled with corruption, was unpatriotic.

As a key member of the bidding team, Lineker said he could no longer be associated with the paper.

This brings us to the core of the Fifa scandal – and reminds us of the less than overwhelmingly approving reaction to the FA's sudden emergence as the advocates for root and branch reform of the world governing body. As long as the FA bid remained in the water, all attempts by the media to expose the rottenness of the bidding process were deemed to be against the national interest.

With his resignation from the Mail on Sunday, Lineker became more than merely complicit in such compromise. He became an active supporter of what amounted to a suppression of the truth. This did not make him a conspicuously valuable contributor to the agonising that brought yesterday's closure of the News of the World. Nor, it has to be said, does the often anodyne coverage of football and all its ills by the flagship "Match of the Day" programme for which Lineker has so long been the face and most high-profile spokesman.

There are many vantage points from which to view and criticise the nation's moral equilibrium, but with each frenzied day of close-season transfer manoeuvring, when the pursuit of new riches makes the concept of loyalty increasingly redundant, professional football is maybe not one of them. This concern is obviously re-doubled when set against the continuing miasma of what passes for Fifa administration.

Gary Lineker of course had the right, and some might say a luxury drawn from a highly successful career, to choose his part-time employers. This is not quite the same, however, as appointing oneself as some arbiter of what is right and wrong.

Whatever the weight of his presence a man has every right to protect his image but perhaps not entirely on his own carefully selected terms. Now the News of the World has gone, along with the sports pages Lineker quite recently declared were the best in all of journalism, he may just reflect on something his critics sometimes accuse him of overlooking.

It is that there is plenty of scope for the expression of moral outrage in Gary Lineker's licence-fee funded £1.5m-a-year day job.

Voices
Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond delivers his speech at the Scottish National Party (SNP) Spring Conference in Aberdeen, Scotland April 12, 2014.
voices
Arts & Entertainment
Jessica Pare as Megan Draper and Jon Hamm as the troubled, melancholy Don Draper
tvAnd six other questions we hope Mad Men series seven will answer
Life & Style
The new low cost smartphone of Motorola, 'Motorola Moto G', is displayed in Sao Paulo, Brazil on November 13, 2013. The smartphone, with dimensions 65.9mm W x 129.9mm H x 6.0 - 11.6mm D is equipped with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 with quad-core 1,2 GHz CPU, a 4.5-inch display and Android Operating System 4.3 and a suggested price of $ 179 USD.
techData assessing smartphones has revealed tens of millions of phones are at risk of being harvested
News
David Beckham is planning to build a stadium in Miami’s port for a new football team he will own
news... in his fight for a football stadium in Miami's port area
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
News
weird newsMan live-photographs cracking of mysterious locked box on Reddit
Sport
Oliver Giroud kisses the Arsenal badge after giving the Gunners the lead
sportArsenal 3 West Ham 1: Two goals from the German striker and one piece of brilliance from Giroud puts the Gunners back above Everton
News
Plans to decriminalise non-payment of television licence fees would cost the BBC £500m according to estimates drawn up within the Corporation
people
News
weird news
Arts & Entertainment
Seeing red: James Dean with Sal Mineo in 'Rebel without a Cause'
filmAs 'Rebel without a Cause' is re-released, Geoffrey Macnab reveals how its star James Dean perfected his moody act
News
Obesity surgery in rats has been found to change the way the body processes alcohol
news
Arts & Entertainment
Heads up: Andy Scott's The Kelpies in Falkirk
artThe Kelpies are the latest addition to a growing army of giant sculptures. But naysayers are asking what a pair of gigantic horse heads tells us about Falkirk?
Life & Style
US Airways has been at the centre of a Twitter storm after it responded to customer complaints with a graphic sexual image
techUS Airways takes an interesting approach to customer service
Arts & Entertainment
Philip Arditti as Yossarian and Christopher Price as Milo Minderbinder in Northern Stage's 'Catch-22'
theatre
Arts & Entertainment
The Purple Wedding: Joffrey and Margaery Tyrell tie the knot
TV The second episode of the hit series featured a surprise for viewers
Life & Style
Back to nature: women with body issues have found naked yoga sessions therapeutic
lifeDoing poses in the altogether is already big in the US, and now it’s landed here – in mixed classes
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
The pain of IVF

The pain of IVF

As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal
Supersize art

Is big better? Britain's latest super-sized art

The Kelpies are the latest addition to a growing army of giant sculptures. But naysayers are asking what a pair of gigantic horse heads tells us about Falkirk?
James Dean: Back on the big screen

James Dean: Back on the big screen

As 'Rebel without a Cause' is re-released, Geoffrey Macnab reveals how its star perfected his moody act
Catch-22: How the cult classic was adapted for the stage

How a cult classic was adapted for the stage

More than half a century after it was published 'Catch-22' will make its British stage debut next week
10 best activity books for children

10 best activity books for children

Keep little ones busy this bank holiday with one of these creative, educational and fun books
Arsenal 3 West Ham United 1: Five things we learnt from the battle between the London sides

Five things we learnt from Arsenal's win over West Ham

Arsenal still in driving seat for Champions League spot and Carroll can make late charge into England’s World Cup squad
Copa del Rey final: Barcelona are paying for their complacency and not even victory over Real Madrid will put things right

Pete Jenson on the Copa del Rey final

Barcelona are paying for their complacency and not even victory over Real Madrid will put things right
Rafa to reign? Ten issues clay courts will serve up this season

Rafa to reign? Ten issues clay courts will serve up this season

With the tennis circus now rolling on to the slowest surface, Paul Newman highlights who'll be making the headlines – and why
Exclusive: NHS faces financial disaster in 2015 as politicians urged to find radical solution

NHS faces financial disaster in 2015

Politicians urged to find radical solution
Ukraine crisis: How spontaneous are the pro-Russian protests breaking out in Ukraine’s east?

Ukraine crisis

How spontaneous are the pro-Russian protests breaking out in Ukraine’s east?
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: The first execution at the Tower of London for 167 years

The first execution at the Tower of London for 167 years

A history of the First World War in 100 moments
Fires could turn Amazon rainforest into a desert as human activity and climate change threaten ‘lungs of the world’, says study

New threat to the Amazon rainforest:

Fires that scorch the ‘lungs of the Earth’
Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City: And the winner of this season’s Premier League title will be...

Who’s in box seat now? The winner of the title will be ...

Who is in best shape to take the Premier League prize?