FIFA picks Lineker to host World Cup draw in Moscow

Former Engalnd soccer player Gary Lineker speaks ahead of the draw for the London 2012 Olympic Soccer tournament, at Wembley Stadium in London. FIFA has announced Friday Nov. 17, 2017, that Lineker and Russian sports journalist Maria Komandnaya will jointly present the World Cup draw in Moscow. (Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP)

ZURICH — Former England forward Gary Lineker, a long-standing critic of FIFA, will present the World Cup draw alongside Russian sports journalist Maria Komandnaya at the State Kremlin Palace in Moscow on Dec. 1.

Lineker has often questioned the conduct of FIFA to his 6.7 million followers on Twitter — particularly the integrity of the bidding process for the 2018 World Cup that England lost.

"FIFA bidding process created a murky world where favours/bribes were just thrown around. Stinks," Lineker tweeted in June after the investigation was published that cleared Russia of wrongdoing.

In 2016, Lineker highlighted "FIFA’s basket of deplorables" and separately tweeted that "FIFA is awash with corruption and self serving practices."

Asked Friday on Twitter about being a critic of FIFA, Lineker replied: "And still will be when necessary. I’m hosting the draw for a World Cup that I’ve watched all my life, played in twice, won its Golden boot and will present for ↕BBCSport for the 6th time next summer. I just wish I could still play in it. Doesn’t make it a political endorsement."

Lineker won the Golden Boot as top scorer at the 1986 World Cup, and helped England reach the semifinals in 1990. He is now a respected broadcaster for British networks.

FIFA deputy secretary general Zvonimir Boban said Lineker’s "honest and open views together with his in-depth knowledge of the game greatly enrich the world of football journalism."

Komandnaya has worked for Fox Sports for more than a decade as one of Russia’s best known sports journalists.

Russia hosts the 32-team World Cup from June 14-July 15.


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