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England Soccer Icon Slams 2026 World Cup Host U.S. As 'Extraordinarily Racist' In Viral Rant

Former soccer star Gary Lineker admitted the U.K. has also 'got issues.'

BBC soccer commentator Gary Lineker
David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for The Design Museum

British soccer icon and BBC commentator Gary Lineker is under fire for criticizing the selection of the United States to host the 2026 World Cup because the U.S. is "extraordinarily racist."

Not everyone disagrees with him, of course.

Lineker's comments came during a discussion on the podcast "The News Agents" in which he was also critical of Qatar being chosen to host this year's World Cup amid the country's virulent homophobia and widespread human rights abuses.

Speaking with podcast host Emily Maitlis, Lineker expressed his dismay that between the current tournament and 2026's, the World Cup will have been hosted in what he sees as two consecutive bigoted and inhospitable countries.

Lineker began his comments by calling out the appalling human rights abuses that occurred in Qatar during the construction of the stadium where the World Cup is currently being held, along with Qatar's issues with LGBTQ and women's rights.

He told Maitlis:

"We pointed facts out at the beginning of the tournament; those facts remain. So, lots of people were killed doing the stadiums. Yes, the stadiums are extraordinary, but at a great price."
"Homophobia is an issue here, women’s rights are a little bit of an issue here.”

He then called out the US's problems with racism.

“And we’re off to America in four years’ time... obviously America’s an extraordinarily racist country.”

The US's issues with racism, police brutality, and rapidly ascendant white nationalism are frequently covered in international news and have shocked the world in recent years, with issues like the 2020 murder of George Floyd sparking worldwide protests.

Lineker did concede that his home country of the United Kingdom is not without its own problems, telling Maitlis that "pretty much every country, including our own, has got issues."

On Twitter, Lineker's comments left a bad taste in many people's mouths, especially given the UK's own reputation for racism

But not everyone disagreed with his take.

Lineker's call-outs of Qatar's human rights abuses have also landed him in hot water, angering the head of the country's World Cup committee Hassan Al-Thawadi, who called the BBC's coverage "very racist" in response.

He has also claimed that Lineker will not take his calls, but Lineker says none have been received.