Gary Lineker backs down from presenting Match of the Day

  • Written by Rachel Russell and Charlie Adams
  • BBC News

image source, Getty Images

The BBC has said Gary Lineker will withdraw from presenting Match of the Day until an agreement is reached over his use of social media.

It follows a row over neutrality over comments he made criticizing the government’s new asylum policy.

The BBC said it considered Undeniable’s “recent social media activity to be a breach of our guidelines”.

She added that he should “stay away from taking sides in partisan political issues or political differences.”

The BBC said it had been in “extensive discussions with Gary and his team in recent days” and had “decided he would withdraw from presenting Match of the Day until we reached an agreed and clear position on his use of social media”.

He continued: “When it comes to leading our coverage of football and sports, Gary is second to none.

“We’ve never said that Gary should be a no-brainer, or that he can’t have a point of view on issues that matter to him, but we’ve said he should steer clear of taking sides on partisan politics or political controversies.”

Fellow pundit Ian Wright said he would not be appearing in “Solidarity”, tweeting: “Everyone knows what today’s game means to me, but I’ve told the BBC I won’t be doing it tomorrow. Solidarity.”

Lineker responded on Twitter, calling it an “immeasurably cruel policy targeting the most vulnerable with language not unlike that used by Germany in the 1930s.”

Braverman criticized Lineker’s tweet, saying it “minimizes the untold tragedy” of the Holocaust.

The Home Secretary, speaking on the BBC’s Political Thinking podcast, said the Nazi comparison was “lazy and unhelpful” and said her family “feels very strongly the impact of the Holocaust” because her husband is Jewish.

Many opposition MPs and charities also strongly objected to the government’s plans.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak defended the proposals, saying stopping small boats was a “priority” for the British people.

Lineker has hosted Match of the Day since 1999 and is the BBC’s highest-paid star, earning around £1.35m in 2020-21.

He works for the BBC as a freelancer.

The former soccer player has previously sheltered asylum seekers and has publicly advocated for better rights and protection for refugees. He has also criticized successive Conservative governments over issues including Britain’s exit from the European Union.

His comments received widespread support on social media, with one tweet getting 235,000 likes.

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