FREEDOM OF SPEECH: Gary Lineker benched by BBC’s Match of the Day

BBC has announced that Gary Lineker will not host Match of the Day this weekend

Gary Lineker will “step back” from presenting Match of the Day until he and the BBC have reached an “agreed and clear position” on his use of social media, the broadcaster has said.

However Sky News claims that the BBC statement is “incorrect”. Correspondent Matthew Thompson tweeted that he “understood” that: “Lineker has not agreed to ‘step back’, and has instead been taken off air as he is unwilling to apologise for his comments this week on social media.”

Ian Wright has announced he will not be taking part in the show on Saturday (11 March) in “solidarity” with Lineker. He wrote: “Everybody knows what Match of the Day means to me, but I’ve told the BBC I won’t be doing it tomorrow. Solidarity.”

Match of the Day 2 will have the majority of the action this weekend
Match of the Day 2 will have the majority of the action this weekend.

Lineker’s remarks on Tuesday (7 March) came in response to a Home Office video on Twitter in which the Home Secretary Suella Braverman unveiled the Government’s plans to stop migrants crossing the Channel on small boats and said the UK is being “overwhelmed”. He 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.”

TalkTV host Piers Morgan defended the ex-England striker saying the remarks were “clearly incendiary” but that his opinions “should not matter to the BBC’s news output”. Morgan and Lineker are known to have clashed online multiple times previously on various issues.

Downing Street has hit back at Lineker and Braverman accused him of diminishing the tragedy of the Holocaust in response to the tweets.

If you tune into the popular BBC football recap programme on Saturday (11 March), you will not see Lineker in the presenter’s chair. He will be absent from Match of the Day in the short term, the BBC has announced.

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 BBC has not yet announced who will present Match of the Day in Lineker’s absence on 11 March. He has been the host of the popular football programme since 1999.

Mark Chapman is the host of Match of the Day 2 which provides coverage of Premier League fixtures on Sundays.

The Telegraph has touted Alex Scott as a potential replacement for Gary Lineker if he was removed from Match of the Day in recent days. She has regularly appeared on the show as a pundit since her retirement from football.

One comment

  1. And let that E a lesson to anyone expressing an opinion that the Tory government in Westminster doesn’t like.

    And don’t for a minute think it restricted to sports commentators or the BBC.

    Adolf and his party didn’t get where they got letting people run off at the mouth criticising the rounding up of Jews and the sending of them to work and or extermination camps.

    And don’t think it couldn’t happen here, in Dumbarton or in wider Scotland.

    As Cllr Jim Bolan, ex Cllr George Black, or think about Alex Salmond and how he was pursued.

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