Gary Lineker To 'Step Back' From Match Of The Day After Immigration Tweets
Gary Lineker has spoken out on a series of issues.
Gary Lineker has been pulled from presenting Match of the Day following a series a tweets criticising the government’s migrant policy.
The broadcaster said on Friday that the former footballer will “step back” from fronting the show until there is “an agreed and clear position on his use of social media”.
The row was sparked by his response on Twitter to a Home Office video in which home secretary Suella Braverman unveiled the government’s plans to stop migrants crossing the Channel on small boats.
The ex-England striker wrote: “There is no huge influx. We take far fewer refugees than other major European countries.
“This is just an immeasurably cruel policy directed at the most vulnerable people in language that is not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the ’30s.”
A BBC spokesperson said: “The BBC has been in extensive discussions with Gary and his team in recent days. We have said that we consider his recent social media activity to be a breach of our guidelines.
“The BBC has decided that he will step back from presenting Match of the Day until we’ve got an agreed and clear position on his use of social media.
“When it comes to leading our football and sports coverage, Gary is second to none. We have never said that Gary should be an opinion free zone, or that he can’t have a view on issues that matter to him, but we have said that he should keep well away from taking sides on party political issues or political controversies.”
It was later confirmed Saturday’s Match of the Day is to go ahead without presenters and pundits.
A BBC spokesperson said the show will “focus on match action without studio presentation or punditry” after several pundits pulled out of the show.
Former players Alan Shearer and Ian Wright announced they would boycott Match Of The Day over the weekend as the BBC faced an unexpected mutiny.
Former Arsenal player Alex Scott appeared to rule herself out of presenting Match Of The Day by posting a GIF with the words “Nah! Not me”, while Micah Richards and Jermaine Jenas also indicated they would not be interested in being pundits on the programme on Saturday.
Lineker has faced criticism from Downing Street, culture secretary Lucy Frazer and Braverman, who accused him of “diminishing the unspeakable tragedy” of the Holocaust.
However, support has come from media figures including Piers Morgan and Sky News commentator Adam Boulton.
Lineker tweeted on Thursday that he was “very much looking forward” to presenting Match Of The Day on Saturday.
He previously told reporters outside his London home that he stood by his criticism of the immigration policy and did not fear suspension by the BBC.
BBC director-general Tim Davie warned staff about their use of social media when he took on the role at the end of 2020, and guidelines around social media use have since been updated.
Staff were told they need to follow editorial guidelines and editorial oversight in the same way as when doing BBC content.
Lineker is a freelance broadcaster for the BBC, not a permanent member of staff, and is not responsible for news or political content so does not need to adhere to the same rules on impartiality.
A Labour source said: “The BBC’s cowardly decision to take Gary Lineker off air is an assault on free speech in the face of political pressure.
“Tory politicians lobbying to get people sacked for disagreeing with Government policies should be laughed at, not pandered to. The BBC should rethink their decision.”
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