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Lineker steps away from Match of the Day amid BBC row

Soccer great Gary Lineker will “step back” from presenting England’s flagship soccer show Match Of The Day while his row with the BBC remains unresolved.

Migration Britain Former soccer star Gary Lineker will
March 11, 2023
11 March 2023

Gary Lineker, one of England’s most celebrated sports heroes, will “step back” from presenting the country’s flagship soccer show, Match Of The Day, following his criticism of the UK’s migration policy.

And his fellow former England striker, Ian Wright, said on Friday he won’t appear on Saturday’s programme, out of “solidarity” with Lineker.

The BBC said it had been in discussions with Lineker and his team in recent days and decided that he would step back from presenting Match of the Day “until we’ve got an agreed and clear position on his use of social media”.

Lineker, one of the best strikers in English football who has gone on to become the BBC’s highest-paid presenter since his career ended, has been embroiled in a row over impartiality after comparing the language used to launch a new Government asylum policy with that of 1930s Germany.

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.”

The row was sparked by Lineker’s 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.

Lineker, 62, 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.”

Lineker has since 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 many media figures in the UK, including Piers Morgan.

After the announcement, Wright tweeted: “Everybody knows what Match of the Day means to me, but I’ve told the BBC I won’t be doing it tomorrow. Solidarity.”

Lineker had 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.

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.

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