Gary Lineker: Zvonimir Boban Returned Honesty to FIFA

Daniela Rogulj

Zvonimir Boban is the current FIFA deputy secretary general. 

Former England national team player and top scorer of the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, Gary Lineker now works as a BBC commentator. Lineker is one of the world’s most famous sports commentators who is followed by seven million people on Twitter, and his comments regularly fill the covers of the most famous international media. In an interview for British online newspaper The Independent, Lineker commented on the former captain of the Croatia national football team, Zvonimir Boban. The former Milan and Dinamo Zagreb player is today one of the top men in FIFA, reports on June 9, 2018.

Also one of FIFA’s biggest critics, the reporter asked Lineker whether he regretted being one of the hosts for the World Cup draw ceremony in Russia.

“None at all. I played in two World Cups. I’ve been involved as a broadcaster in every other World Cup since. It’s a competition I love. Being part of the World Cup draw wasn’t endorsing Fifa. I was just doing a draw. At the same time, I wanted to get in a little bit. I had lots of meetings prior to it. I spoke to Boban, and he said: “We respect all the criticism, that’s why we want you.” It’s a similar thing, in many ways, to the EU. You either decide whether you want to change things from the inside, or you stand on the outside constantly throwing stones,” Lineker said to The Independent, before adding: “I’ve opted for the former. But at the same time, I’m still not endorsing them. I gave my fee for the draw to charity, and I’ve been critical of subsequent decisions that were made. My gut feeling is that they want to change it for the good. It’ll take a long time, because the game has terrible stains from what’s been happening the last 20 or 30 years.”

The famous commentator was then asked how well he knew FIFA president Gianni Infantino and FIFA deputy secretary general Zvonimir Boban.

“Not very well. I spent a bit of time with him after the World Cup draw. I’ve gotten to know Boban [Zvonimir, the former Croatian player and Fifa deputy secretary general] pretty well, who’s got his ear. So I’m fairly confident that Boban would walk if it went back to how it used to be. I mean, he knows Infantino well. It’s just whether he’s strong enough. And they’ve already got rid of so much of the corruption. They’ll make mistakes, and they’ll make bad decisions, and there will be things that they can’t change. But as long as it’s honest, as long as it’s straight and above board, that’ll do for me. People will make wrong decisions –  increasing the World Cup to 48 teams would be a big mistake – but it’s just a decision. Siphoning money off – hundreds of millions that should be going into the grassroots game – is massively wrong, and corrupt, and illegal. Hopefully, even if they make a few mistakes, they’ll sort out the other stuff. If not, I’ll be the first on the case.”

Lineker also spoke about the corruption in today’s football.

“Well, it’s been through the dreadful period of Blatter. Most of them are either locked up, about to be locked up, or suspended. You hope the new bunch aren’t similar. And certainly, I have faith in Boban.”

You can read the full interview on The Independent here. 


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