The BT Sports presenter is due to host the event in the Kremlin despite being critical of FIFA in the past, particularly with regard to awarding the event to Russia and Qatar in the first place.
Under former president Sepp Blatter’s stewardship, Lineker accused world football’s governing body of being a “revolting organisation” suffering from “nauseating” amounts of “corruption”.
He further accused current incumbent Gianni Infantino of “destroying” the planet’s premier football competition with his plans to increase participation to 48 teams.
Nevertheless, the 1986 Golden Boot winner accepted the invitation to oversee ceremonies today and explained for the first time how he was able to reconcile taking on such a high-profile role with his previous strident criticism.
“If Blatter had still been in charge I would not have done it,” he said. “But you have got a lot of new people and a lot of ex-footballers now.
“I have spoken to Zvonimir Boban who is quite high up in the hierarchy there, deputy secretary general, and he’s very impressive. Marco van Basten is there, Luis Figo, Emilio Butragueno.
“So they are making changes and it is only fair to give…