With World Cup fever set to break out internationally, a senior British sports figure has warned against making football into a religion at the expense of "the real God."

David Mellor, chair of the British government's Football Task Force, which is charged with raising the standards of the game in the UK, referred to an "obsessive belief" about football at a time when many people had lost their belief in religion, political institutions and the royal family.The World Cup, featuring teams from 32 countries - including England and Scotland from the UK - starts next week in France. Mellor, a former Cabinet minister, made his remarks last month on BBC Television's "First Light" program.