Gary Lineker in tears as he says 'I can't be silent'

Gary Lineker
Gary Lineker -Credit:Getty Images

BBC's Match of the Day presenter and Leicester City legend, Gary Lineker, has sparked debate once again with his comments on the situation in Gaza, describing it as "the worst thing I've seen in my life" and insisting, "I can't be silent about what's happening."

Despite BBC stars being bound by media guidelines set out by the broadcaster last year after Lineker made contentious comparisons between UK asylum policy and 1930s Germany, the Match of the Day presenter did not hold back in his critique of Israel's military actions following the October 7 terror attacks by Hamas, which claimed the lives of an estimated 1,500 Israelis.

Since those attacks, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's orders for bombardments and ground operations in Gaza have resulted in over 34,800 Palestinian casualties, predominantly women and children, as reported by the Gaza Health Ministry.

In a conversation with Zeteo, the media platform established by British-American journalist Mehdi Hasan, the ex-Tottenham Hotspur and England striker said: "It's the worst thing I've seen in my life.

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"I've got no skin in this game. I'm not Muslim, I'm not Jewish, I'm not Israeli, I'm not Palestinian."

"So I see it, I think, purely from the outside as from a neutral perspective. And I can't think of anything that I've seen worse in my lifetime, the constant images of children losing their lives day in day out."

He went on to say: "Obviously, we all know October 7 happened and but the minute you raise your voice against what they're now doing you get accused of being a supporter of Hamas and this kind of stuff."

He further added: "There is a lot of heavy lobbying on people to be quiet so I understand why most people refrain, but I'm getting on a bit now, I'm fairly secure and I can't be silent about what's happening there."

"I think it's so so utterly awful and it already looks like it's happening, going into Rafa, where they've sent everybody down there.

"It's not antisemitic to say that what Israel is doing is wrong. I just can't see how everybody doesn't see it that now, whatever the cause, whatever started it, we all know that, the history of this area, of the world goes way before October 7.

"But it's, it's truly dreadful, what's happening and I cry on a regular basis when I see certain images on social media."

Lineker was temporarily taken off air from Match of the Day on March 10, 2023 after he criticised what he described as "an immeasurably cruel policy directed at the most vulnerable people in language that is not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s".

Famed pundits including Alan Shearer, Ian Wright and Jermaine Jenas withdrew from their planned appearances in a show of solidarity, leading to his swift reinstatement.

The subsequently released BBC's report in September referred to flagship programmes such as Match of the Day, The Apprentice, Dragon's Den and The One Show.

According to the document, while recognising the importance of freedom of speech, presenters are prohibited from endorsing or criticising any political party during an aired programme, with this rule also applying for two weeks pre and post the series.

Constraints are placed on discussions about individual UK politicians' character, declarations on any contentious topics during an election period and taking up a formal role with a lobbying group.

Meanwhile, Lineker expressed his agreement with these restrictions, labelling them as "eminently sensible"..