Gary Lineker will step back from presenting Match of the Day, the famous British soccer In the wake of controversy over a tweet he wrote earlier in the week, the BBC announced on Friday.
On Tuesday, Lineker tweeted a video posted to Twitter by the UK Home Office announcing the government’s announcement Asylum seeker policy.
Then he went on to write: “There is no massive influx. We take in far fewer refugees than other major European countries. This is just an immeasurably harsh policy directed at the most vulnerable people in language not unlike that used by Germany in the 1930s, and am I off duty?”
A statement from the BBC said Lineker’s decision to back down came after “extensive discussions” with the former England international and his team.
“We have said that we consider his recent social media activity to be a violation of our guidelines,” the statement said.
“The BBC has decided that he will withdraw from presenting Match of the Day until we have an agreed and clear position on his use of social media.
“When it comes to leading our coverage of football and sports, Gary is second to none. We’ve never said Gary should be a no-brainer, or that he can’t have a point on the issues that matter to him, but we’ve said he should go far About taking sides on partisan political issues or political differences.”
Lineker’s team declined to comment on the BBC’s statement when contacted by CNN.
No broadcasters or pundits will appear on Match of the Day on Saturday, following a series of statements in support of Lineker.
Former footballers Alan Shearer and Ian Wright announced on Twitter that they had told the BBC that they would not be appearing on the show.
“I have notified the BBC that I will not be appearing on @MOTD tomorrow night,” Shearer wrote on Twitter.
“Everyone knows what today’s game means to me, but I told the BBC I won’t do it tomorrow. Solidarity,” Wright tweeted.
“Some of our critics have said they do not wish to appear on the show while we work to resolve the situation with Gary. We understand their position and have decided that the show should focus on match action without a studio or discussion show,” a BBC spokesperson said on Friday night.
As former BBC Breakfast and Football Focus presenter Dan Walker tweeted: “I used to sit down with Gary Lineker on MOTD… Not sure I’d imagine that this weekend. What a mess!”
Meanwhile, the BECTU union, which represents BBC staff, expressed concern on Friday about the BBC’s decision.
This is a very worrying decision from the BBC. It would give the appearance that they had bowed to political pressure from ministers to take someone off the air for going against existing government policies, said Philippa Childs, chair of BECTU, in a statement.
“Given the ongoing controversy over the appointment of the BBC chairman, who plays a more important role in maintaining the BBC’s reputation, and who did not back down during the investigation, it also risks given the impression of double standards on these problems.”
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