'Former England striker turned TV pundit Gary Lineker’s refusal to join in the Russia bashing ahead of the World Cup has provoked Daily Mail columnist Dominic Sandbrook into a now familiar display of ignorance and rage.
Lineker is a much-loved figure among England fans, having scored more World Cup finals goals than any other English player. He became a television presenter after retiring, and has become known as a ‘liberal voice’ on Twitter.
The former striker was speaking to the Radio Times magazine about criticism surrounding the upcoming World Cup, and gave a view that probably wouldn’t have seemed controversial if he wasn’t talking about Russia.
“Who are we to start getting judgmental on who should have the World Cup? We all know how corrupt our country is at times. Perhaps we don’t like some things that [Russian president] Putin has done, but we’ll be there, we’ll be their guests,” he said.
His display of rational thought and common sense based on the experience of having actually been to Russia continued: “I don’t know what [violence] you’re expecting to kick off. Well, nothing will. Because it never does, it’ll be fine. It’ll be great. What governments do is another matter, but the people of Russia have actually been very welcoming.”
These views are not particularly extreme if you think about it. They just say Russian people are welcoming, he doesn’t expect trouble, and he doesn’t think politics should affect sport. Lineker himself points out on Twitter that he makes absolutely no defense of the Russian government.
However, for Mail columnist Dominic Sandbrook, who has to produce a regular page of bile to justify his salary (you have to assume he gets paid for this stuff), this was all too much and he attacked one of England’s most celebrated goal scorers.'
Read more: Ex-England striker Gary Lineker’s refusal to indulge in Russophobia enrages Daily Mail columnist
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