- Written by Rachel Russell and Charlie Adams
- BBC News
The BBC said Gary Lineker had been asked to withdraw from presenting Match of the Day until an agreement could be reached over his use of social media.
It follows a row over neutrality over comments he made criticizing the government’s new asylum policy.
The BBC said it considered Undeniable’s “recent social media activity to be a breach of our guidelines”.
She added that he should “stay away from taking sides in partisan political issues or political differences.”
The BBC asked Linker to back down after “extensive discussions with Gary and his team in recent days”.
“He has decided that he will withdraw from presenting today’s match until we reach an agreed and clear position on his use of social media,” the statement read.
He continued: “When it comes to leading our coverage of football and sports, Gary is second to none.
“We’ve never said that Gary should be a no-brainer, or that he can’t have a point of view on issues that matter to him, but we’ve said he should steer clear of taking sides on partisan politics or political controversies.”
Fellow pundit Ian Wright said he would not be appearing in “Solidarity”, tweeting: “Everyone knows what today’s game means to me, but I’ve told the BBC I won’t be doing it tomorrow. Solidarity.”
On Tuesday, Home Secretary Soella Braverman outlined the government’s plans to prevent people who arrive in the UK illegally from ever seeking asylum, in a bid to tackle a rise in people crossing the Channel in small boats.
Lineker responded on Twitter, calling it an “immeasurably cruel policy targeting the most vulnerable with language not unlike that used by Germany in the 1930s.”
Braverman criticized Lineker’s tweet, saying it “minimizes the untold tragedy” of the Holocaust.
The Home Secretary, speaking on the BBC’s Political Thinking podcast, said the Nazi comparison was “lazy and unhelpful” and said her family “feels very strongly the impact of the Holocaust” because her husband is Jewish.
Many opposition MPs and charities also strongly objected to the government’s plans.
Richard Eyre, a former BBC editorial policy controller who also served as a member of Ofcom’s content board, said the company had “no choice” but to take action against Lineker after his tweets critical of the government’s asylum policy.
Speaking to the BBC Radio 4 program on Friday evening, he said: “I think it was inevitable. It is [Lineker] He has the BBC’s letters written on his forehead and yet he plunged into the most controversial story of the day.
“The truth is that this was an immediate issue that Tim Davey, the general manager, couldn’t sit through over the weekend, and he had to work it out this week. Obviously he tried to work it out and come to an agreement with Gary Lineker, they’ve failed, so that was it.” BBC decision. Whether this story gets carried over depends on what Gary Lineker himself says in the next few hours.
“Inevitably now that he has not been effectively impeached but at least temporarily impeached, the BBC will now be subjected to a flood of criticism saying that it is acting at the behest of the government.”
Lineker has hosted Match of the Day since 1999 and is the BBC’s highest-paid star, earning around £1.35m in 2020-21.
He works for the BBC as a freelancer.
The former soccer player has previously sheltered asylum seekers and has publicly advocated for better rights and protection for refugees. He has also criticized successive Conservative governments over issues including Britain’s exit from the European Union.
His comments received widespread support on social media, with one tweet getting 235,000 likes.
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