Gary Lineker gives up his 'Mail on Sunday' column over paper's Triesman exposé

Ian Burrell,Media Editor
Sunday 23 October 2011 04:01

Gary Lineker is to stop writing his Mail on Sunday column in protest at its exposé of Lord Triesman which led to his resignation as chairman of the Football Association and England's bid to host the 2018 World Cup.

In an article for The Independent, Lineker, an ambassador for the 2018 bid, accused the newspaper of being complicit in "entrapment" and said it had made an error of judgement in publishing a story which was "very damaging" to England's attempts to stage the competition.

He claimed that the revelations, based on private conversations secretly recorded by Lord Triesman's friend Melissa Jacobs, were "against the national interest". Lord Triesman resigned after it was revealed that he had alleged that the Spanish football authorities were "looking for help from the Russians to help bribe the referees in the World Cup".

The former England captain made an appeal for the press to desist from what he identified as a culture of seeking out negative stories about the England players and management in the build-up to tournaments. Last night he said: "Maybe there will be a bit of a backlash from this. Maybe it's a time when people think, 'Is this right that private conversations can be turned into big stories?'

"The whole kiss-and-tell thing is a negative approach that often happens in a World Cup. We will see negative stories about the players and it can affect their confidence and the overall performance of the national team on the pitch, let alone the bid to actually stage the competition.

"Perhaps people will now think a little bit deeper about the ramifications of stories that can come from newspapers. It's a difficult time for the country and I think it would be a huge boost to host the World Cup. I think we would do a brilliant job and it would have a massive impact right around the world."

The Match of the Day presenter said there was a "wide sense of outrage" among the public over the Mail on Sunday article and that it would be "hypocritical" of him to continue to earn money from the newspaper.

In a statement, the Mail on Sunday defended its reporting of the Lord Triesman story.

"We would like to make it clear that Melissa Jacobs put details of her relationship with Lord Triesman on the internet, and made her recording of her conversation with him, without the knowledge or involvement of the Mail on Sunday.

"There is no question of entrapment, the paper was simply reporting events that had already taken place. We made it absolutely clear to Gary Lineker that he could express his views about this story in his column with complete freedom. We regret that he turned down this offer."

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