Lineker deletes retweet calling for Israel international football ban after ‘misunderstanding’

Gary Lineker has been criticised for ‘ill-informed’ use of social media
Gary Lineker has been criticised for ‘ill-informed’ use of social media - Tolga Akmen/Shutterstock

Gary Lineker has removed a social media post calling for Israel to be banned from international football, having apparently misunderstood the message he shared.

The Match of the Day presenter retweeted a pro-Palestinian campaign’s call for Israel to be barred from tournaments and games over “its grave violations of international law”.

Lineker has removed the retweet following a backlash from MPs angered by his “ill-informed” and “inappropriate” use of social media.

According to sources, the former England captain had misunderstood, believing he was sharing a news article about Israel being banned rather than a demand for a ban.

The shared post was put out by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, and included a statement from the Palestinian Football Association.

‘Deeply inappropriate’

The statement called on Fifa and the International Olympic Committee to sanction Israel, urging officials to “suspend Israel’s membership and ban it from international tournaments and games until it ends its grave violations of international law, particularly its apartheid rule and the crime of genocide it is perpetuating in Gaza”.

Israel’s military action in Gaza was provoked by the Oct 7 Hamas attacks on Israeli civilians, in which 1,200 people were killed.

Andrew Percy, the Jewish Tory MP, called Lineker “an ill-informed, ignorant commentator on the Middle East” and said: “The BDS [boycott, divestment and sanctions] movement is a racist, anti-Semitic campaign, and nobody who receives taxpayers’ money working in the BBC should be endorsing a campaign that is widely understood to promote Jew hate.

“There has to be a line where the BBC has to intervene, and him endorsing a racist campaign, which is what the BDS group is widely understood to be, surely must be a new low if they’re going to allow him to get away with that.”

Stephen Crabb, the parliamentary chairman of the Conservative Friends of Israel, said the call for a sports boycott was a “deeply inappropriate tweet for any BBC figure to endorse”.

It is understood that Lineker assured the BBC that he did not mean to endorse the boycott and deleted his retweet when he realised his error.

Samir Shah, the incoming BBC chairman, recently told MPs that he wanted to find a conclusive “solution” to the cycle of rows involving the Match of the Day presenter.

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