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Gary Lineker blasts "bizarre" World Cup vote

5 December 2010 14:09

LONDON (AFP) - Former England striker Gary Lineker has blasted FIFA's procedures for designating World Cup host nations as "bizarre" and "surreal" after England humiliatingly lost the race to stage the 2018 event.

Russia won Thursday's vote in Zurich with England eliminated in the first round of voting despite FIFA acknowledgement that the England bid was technically flawless, leaving former Tottenham, Everton and Barcelona striker Lineker aghast at the outcome.

"Our bid was almost impeccable, our presentation was the strongest," Lineker wrote in his column for The News of the World.

"There is no doubt in my mind we did everything humanly possible. People keep telling me we have to play the game differently, that we are too straight for our own good.

"I don't think that is the case. We just do things the right way. But if that is what has cost us the World Cup, then forget it - maybe it's not worth having."

Lineker, now a presenter for the BBC's Match of the Day programme, was in Zurich for the decision which saw England muster just two of 22 FIFA executive committee votes and had contact with several Executive Committee members.

He explained the whole lobbying process left much to be desired.

"It was a surreal environment and bizarre process and I would like to see it more open. You feel like some sort of stalker waiting to pounce. I know David Beckham felt the same. We were chatting as we had a snack in the lobby waiting for the next prey to come in.

"You do the niceties, try to talk your bid up a bit, and they go: 'Oh yes, that's very good.' We spoke to (Trinidadian executive committee member and CONCACAF president) Jack Warner and he pretty much said: 'You don't have to worry about me.' I heard him say those exact words to David (Beckham). It was like some kind of sick joke," said Lineker.

He added he believed the vote "should be more transparent."

But Lineker dismissed the idea that a BBC Panorama broadcast investigating allegations of bribery within FIFA had helped to derail the England bid.

"We had only two votes. We were nowhere near. If we had missed out by one vote, you might have said 'Panorama' had an impact. But it was such a resounding hammering, it was nothing to do with it."

Even so he admitted: "I remain frustrated by the timing of the 'Panorama' programme, it was unnecessary and not helpful in any way. It was not a current topic that they discovered, it was from the past.

"The timing was wrong."

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