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.

Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck stars as prime suspect Nick Dunne in the film adaptation of Gone Girl
filmBen Affleck and Rosamund Pike excel in David Fincher's film, says Geoffrey Macnab
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
fashionThe supermodel on her career, motherhood and Cara Delevingne
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
premier league
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel, Chandler and Ross try to get Ross's sofa up the stairs in the famous 'Pivot!' scene
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments