Gary Lineker has resigned as weekly Mail on Sunday columnist following the newspaper’s publication of FA chairman Lord Triesman’s secretly recorded conversation on Sunday.
The story, which led to Triesman’s immediate resignation, has forced the 2018 World Cup bid team into a frantic operation to re-establish its credibility.
The newspaper published comments made by Triesman during a private dinner where he claimed the Spanish and Russian football authorities were considering bribing referees at this summer’s World Cup.
Triesman has since released a statement in which he complains of entrapment by the Mail on Sunday.
Lineker is an official ambassador of the 2018 World Cup bid and is quoted in The Guardian saying the Mail on Sunday’s story had little merit but did potentially serious damage to the effort to bring the 2018 tournament to this country:
“The story itself, the circumstances surrounding it and the actions of the Mail on Sunday in publishing it have undermined the bid to bring the World Cup to England in 2018.
“I wholeheartedly support the bid, because I believe that hosting the tournament would be brilliant for the country, and I am an official ambassador for it. I have therefore taken the view that I cannot continue as a columnist for the Mail on Sunday.”
Lineker’s agent Jon Holmes was critical of the Mail on Sunday, accusing it of “crass judgement” for running the story.
In statement the Mail on Sunday said:
“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.”