James Lawton: Lineker's gesture was understandable but Triesman's loose words were mind-boggling

A straightforward business you might say, Gary Lineker's resignation as a Mail on Sunday columnist after the newspaper's decision to publish the taped results of Lord Triesman's "entrapment" by a young woman apparently hell-bent on exploiting their relationship.

So why am I a little uneasy that Lineker's gesture launched him into the instant status of English football's No 1 patriot?

It is certainly not for any lack of admiration for a great striker of superb professional values and a man of considerable charm, whose company has long been one of the rewards of inhabiting a sports culture which isn't always too scrupulous about whom it chooses to lionise.

No, the concern is triggered not so much by Lineker's action as the clamour of approval it provoked. As an official ambassador of the 2018 World Cup bid, which the former FA chairman Triesman might have hindered only marginally more spectacularly had he rolled a live hand grenade across a committee room floor, Lineker may reasonably have felt that he really had no option.

What is most troubling is the eagerness with which so many in English football and the media, in the latter category most notably The Sun, whose record for unequivocal support of England's cause at the expense of sales figures is maybe less than spotless, have proclaimed the value of a common front imposed by silence.

According to this thinking, it was better for Lord Triesman to proceed as someone who turned out to be an extremely loose cannon in his pivotal role in the national game than to have the extent of his indiscretions published, which, incidentally, may yet run rather wider than those revealed last Sunday.

Here, surely, is where we are right to worry about the idea that it was in the national sporting interest to draw a veil over the fact that its most important organisation was being run by a man of mature years whose apparent urge to impress someone whose company he apparently "craved" and wished to bombard with "kisses all over" led him to a freewheeling review of issues which were at the heart of his official responsibilities.

Lord Triesman's private life is his own business, but this ceases to be so when it intrudes on his ability to do prudently the job with which he had been entrusted. Then surely it becomes a matter of public interest.

Brush it all the under the carpet, we were told. Such an imperative is perhaps valid when a nation is fighting for its life, when the message that "walls have ears" is daubed in public places with the justification that it may well save thousands of lives but what we are talking about here, perhaps we should not forget, is a vast commercial enterprise.

It is one that no doubt has the potential to bring considerable joy to the nation. But is it so vital that we all tumble into the column of opinion that has the fourth estate in the new role – outside of war – of carefully selecting only that news which helps a certain cause favoured by a majority of the people, and if it is where do we now draw the line between the Daily Bugle and the Ministry of Information?

Triesman tells us that his allegations about a corrupt partnership between Spain and Russia aimed at bending referees and carving up the vote for the 2018 World Cup were not intended to be taken seriously. If not, they were not worth the breath that carried them because all they did, however unknowing their author, was excite suspicions that Triesman's organisation was plainly unable to resolve.

What we were left with was a public relations disaster of mind-boggling dimensions and some repercussions which reach beyond the significance of success or failure in any one World Cup bid.

One is the suggestion that information, however it is acquired, has now to be weighed – for the moment this principle is presumably only to be applied to the playpen of sport – for its positive impact on certain nationally approved causes. Another is the argument coming from inside the game that the idea of an independent chairman of the Football Association is a concept that cannot any longer be countenanced.

It is surely alarming that the national game now believes, despite decades of disaster largely created by what could so often be described as detachment from the real world, that its future will be best protected by "experienced football administrators."

The kind, presumably, who thought it practical go to another Sunday newspaper a few years ago and suggest a deal that would list chapter and verse the romantic indiscretions of Sven Goran Eriksson in exchange for silence on similar activities by the chief executive of the Football Association, Mark Palios?

One undisputed consequence of an extremely sad affair is that English football is once again in an extremely uncomfortable place. Samuel Johnson claimed that patriotism was the last refuge of a scoundrel. Perhaps in this case he might have added the sanctuary provided by a cover-up of time-honoured bungling.

Shades of '67 for Internazionale if Van Gaal goes on the attack

It is surely not too fanciful to anticipate in Madrid's Bernabeu stadium tonight something more than a straight battle between the football resources – and egos – of Internazionale's Jose Mourinho and Bayern's Louis van Gaal.

There is also rather more than a small war of coaching instincts.

At Barcelona the Dutchman admired the drive of his young Portuguese assistant and gave Mourinho his first serious promotion. But he was less enamoured with his protégé's personality and priorities.

Van Gaal concluded that for Mourinho winning, however it was achieved, would always be the supreme imperative. From his viewpoint, the nature of a team's performance would always be important.

It means that maybe we have to go back 43 years to find a European final of quite such philosophical intrigue.

Then, in Lisbon, Mourinho's Inter predecessor Helenio Herrera, a coach of similar mystique, believed in the power of catenaccio, the bolted door of defence. Celtic's Jock Stein told his players to play the purest attacking football they could muster. Celtic won in what might have been described as moral slaughter.

Bayern, the suspicion has to be, may not be strong enough to follow in those warrior-like footsteps. But let us hope that they try.

A Freudian sip diluted by a steward's inquiry

If they should return to the highest level of English football, Blackpool will inevitably evoke memories of those salty days when Matthews and Mortensen were the Ronaldo and the Rooney of their time – and the club's bar steward handed out Scotch in the boardroom as reluctantly as the beloved centre-half Harry Johnston ceded a yard.

The late Sir Clement Freud once queried the composition of a faintly yellowish drink handed to him after a match played in an Arctic wind.

"It's whisky," he was told. Freud asked: "But did you put something in it?" The steward said, "Yes, water."

Freud frowned and replied, "I thought it was something I hadn't tasted before."

Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreEXCLUSIVE The Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs his surreal series returns, the comedian on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
music‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do 'The Independent’s' experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
Colombia's James Rodriguez celebrates one of his goals during the FIFA World Cup 2014 round of 16 match between Colombia and Uruguay at the Estadio do Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
News
news
News
i100
News
people
Sport
Antoine Griezmann has started two of France’s four games so far
sport
Life and Style
techYahoo Japan launches service to delete your files and email your relatives when you die
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary