(CNN) The BBC’s weekend football coverage has been thrown into chaos following its announcement that Gary Lineker would “step down” from presenting, after he became embroiled in a fairness row after he criticized British government policy on Twitter.
The broadcaster is now facing boycotts from pundits, presenters and even players of its flagship soccer show “Match of the Day”, while other soccer programs – Football Focus and Final Score – and some radio programming has been taken off-air as a result of the uproar.
Lineker criticized the government’s controversial new asylum-seeker policy on Tuesday and was relieved of his current duties later this week after the BBC said his tweets breached their guidelines, specifically those towards “reasonable fairness”. its commitment.
The BBC’s decision has sparked controversy, leaving the organization under criticism from opposition politicians, the Broadcasting Entertainment Communications and Theater Union, which represents BBC employees, and its former director general Greg Dyke.
A BBC spokesperson said in a statement on Saturday: “The BBC will only be able to bring a limited range of sporting events this weekend and our schedule will be updated.”
“We regret making these changes which we believe will be disappointing for BBC Sport fans.
“We are working hard to resolve the situation and hope to do so soon.”
In an interview with BBC News on Saturday, the broadcaster’s director general Tim Davey was asked whether he should resign over the crisis. He said he would not.
“I honestly don’t believe, despite a lot of comments, that it’s about left or right,” Davy said. The BBC “is a fierce champion of democratic debate, free speech, but alongside this there needs to be a fair organisation,” he said.
Asked if he regretted the way he handled the situation, he said: “We made decisions, and I made decisions based on a genuine passion about the BBC and it’s difficult – it’s a fine line between free speech and fairness.” There’s balance.” ,
On Tuesday, Lineker tweeted “Good Heavens, this is beyond horrible” for a video posted on Twitter announcing a new proposed policy by the British Home Office – preventing migrant boats crossing the English Channel from France. The effort, which has been criticized. United Nations and other global bodies.
He added: “There is no huge influx. We take in far fewer refugees than other major European countries. It is an extremely cruel policy directed only at the weakest in language that is similar to the one used by Germany in the 30s.” language, and I’m out of order?”
As the UK’s public broadcaster, the BBC is bound by “reasonable impartiality” – a much-disputed term that the organization seeks to account for with stability while not “allowing itself to be used to campaign for changing public policy”. “Defines as.”
On Friday, the BBC announced that Lineker would “step back from presenting Match of the Day until we have an agreed and clear position on his use of social media,” adding that his recent social media activity had considered a violation of its guidelines.
In response, first pundits, then commentators, and then even Premier League teams announced boycotts of the show in support of Lineker.
BBC commentators Steve Wilson, Conor McNamara, Robin Cowen and Steven Wyeth said in a joint statement issued late on Friday: “In the circumstances, we do not think it would be appropriate to participate in the programme.”
Jermain Defoe, a former England striker, announced on Saturday that he would not be appearing as a pundit on Sunday’s show.
“Working with the BBC Motd is always a privilege. But yesterday I have made the decision to step down from my punditry duties. @GaryLineker,” Defoe Tweeted,
Defoe’s announcement appears to be the first indication that the British broadcaster’s Sunday television programming will also be affected.
Meanwhile, the Professional Footballers’ Association announced On Saturday “players involved in today’s games will not be asked to take part in the Match of the Day interview.”
“The PFA is speaking to members who wish to take a collective position and want to be able to show their support for those who have chosen not to be part of tonight’s programme,” the statement read.
“During those conversations we made it clear that, as their union, we would support all members who may face consequences for not meeting their broadcasting commitments. It is a common-sense decision that ensures That the players will no longer be put in that position.” ,
Following his team’s 1-0 defeat against Bournemouth on Saturday, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was asked about the BBC issue.
The German told reporters, “I don’t see any reason why they would ask someone to hold back for saying that. I’m not sure whether it’s a language issue or not.”
“If I understand it right, it is an opinion about human rights and it should be possible to say that.
“I don’t understand why everyone goes on Twitter and says something. I don’t understand the social media part of it, but maybe it’s [because] I’m too old for that.”
a political row
Former BBC director-general Greg Dyke said the broadcaster had “undermined its own credibility” by suspending Lineker because it appeared to have “bowed to government pressure.”
Leader of the opposition Labor Party, Keir Starmer, said the BBC “got it horribly wrong and now they are very, very exposed.”
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon Tweeted: “As a strong supporter of public service broadcasting, I want to be able to defend the BBC. But the decision to take Gary Lineker off air is inexcusable. It is undermining freedom of expression in the face of political pressure – And it always seems to succumb to right-wing pressure.”
Angela Rayner, deputy leader of the opposition Labor Party, also criticized the BBC’s decision in a tweet on Saturday.
He tweeted, “The BBC’s cowardly decision to take Gary Lineker off the air is an assault on Tory politicians’ freedom of speech in the face of political pressure. They should reconsider.”
Meanwhile, Nadine Dorries, an MP from the governing Conservative Party and former culture secretary, welcomed the BBC’s decision, Tweet: “The news that Gary Lineker has been stood down for investigation is welcome and the BBC is serious about objectivity.
“Gary is entitled to his views – free speech is paramount. Lots of non public service broadcasters can accommodate him and his views and will be paid better.”
On his part, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak issued a statement on Saturday saying he hoped the situation between the BBC and its star football host could be resolved but that it was not an issue for the UK government.