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Gary Lineker: It would be hypocritical of me to take payment from MoS

Exclusive: This story goes against the national interest because the country is behind the 2018 bid

Wednesday 19 May 2010 00:00 BST
(Getty Images)

My weekly column will no longer be appearing in the Mail on Sunday. Not after last weekend's story in the same newspaper, which led to the resignation of Lord Triesman, the chairman of the Football Association and England's bid to host the 2018 World Cup.

It was clearly a case of entrapment. Whatever you think about Lord Triesman and whatever you feel about what he said, his comments were obviously meant for one person's ears and one person's ears only. And however ridiculous these comments might appear, they are very damaging. I think it's a real shame the newspaper made the judegment that they did for short-term gain in sales of newspapers because it's hard to see that there was any other positive from it.

There's a good sports section at the Mail on Sunday and I've enjoyed working with them but I'm in a position where quitting the role is the right thing to do. As an ambassador of the 2018 bid I would desperately love the World Cup to come to this country, but this story has damaged our chances and I'd be hypocritical to continue to earn money from writing a column in that paper.

I think this story goes against the national interest because the country is behind the 2018 bid, in which a lot of people invested a hell of a lot of time. The bid is particularly strong and has just been handed in last week.

There's absolutely no question our chances have been damaged. I'm just hopeful that Fifa will recognise the circumstances of how this has happened and the fact that it was just about rumour and was never meant for the public domain. I really hope that one man's utterings – albeit his private utterings – will not have an overall negative effect on our bid but it can't be positive.

There seems to be some sort of thirst in the press for negative stories about our squad and our management going into a major competition. Whatever you think, it will not help. I think it might be a time that we can perhaps reflect on this as a nation and perhaps think of the responsibility our newspapers have. They all seem to champion the national side and show patriotism but when push comes to shove and they have the opportunity of selling an extra few newspapers, at times I think they will make errors of judgement in stories that are basically just private issues. 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. I think it frustrates the people of this country that some of these stories can come out at a time of national importance, which is especially the case with the 2018 bid for economic reasons. 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.

There's a wide sense of outrage over this story – that's a general feeling among the British public. In the past there has been kiss-and-tells about players on the eve of big World Cup matches, or stories of players on a night out, or Wags. All these things are a distraction but this is of far more significance. You can't gloss over it, we just have to get back on track and tell people what our bid is all about.

We have an extraordinarily strong bid that must appeal to enough delegates at Fifa. We have the stadia; we have the national interest; we can leave a legacy for the game; economically it's very viable; we provide great broadcasting in this country; we've got easy access to all the grounds; we've got a multicultural society and any side coming to this country will have a huge support base which must be appealing. So we've got a lot of things going for us and that's what we've got to drum home despite the current negative publicity.

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