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With the World Cup starting next week in Moscow, it is not surprising that Vladimir Putin’s propaganda machine is revving up its engines.
What is surprising, though, is that one of the BBC’s best-known sports presenters has appointed himself as Putin’s chief defender.
Gary - Lineker - Fans - Fifa - Decision
According to Gary Lineker, British fans should stop questioning Fifa’s decision to award the World Cup to Russia.
Now, I bow to nobody in my admiration of Lineker’s record on the pitch. But to hear him parroting one of the Kremlin’s favourite propaganda lines — ‘Who are you to judge us? You Westerners are no saints!’ — feels like a betrayal.
Britain - Right
We in Britain have every right to be judgmental.
Quite apart from the fact that we invented the game, we have the good fortune to live in one of the world’s least corrupt countries.
Russia - Record - Racism - Homophobia - Consideration
As for Russia, its appalling record of racism and homophobia alone would have disbarred it from consideration as a World Cup host, were it not for the fact that Fifa lost its moral compass decades ago.
There are the political assassinations, the murders of journalists, the invasion of Ukraine, the repression of dissent, the financial corruption, the Salisbury poisonings . . . well, you get the drift.
Russia - Moment
But more on Russia in a moment.
First, a word or two about Gary Lineker, the man Esquire magazine calls ‘the voice of liberal Britain’.
Sports - Presenter - Salary - £1 - Sideline
He has successfully reinvented himself as a leading sports presenter, with a salary of more than £1.75 million and a lucrative sideline as a crisp salesman.
Since discovering Twitter, he’s relentlessly fired out opinions on everything from Brexit (anti) to Donald Trump (anti) to millions of followers. Of course he has every right. Even so, I can’t help wondering whether he’s become rather too keen on the sound of people applauding his holier-than-thou, oh-so- virtuous opinions.
At the very least there...
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