Former England football captain and BBC presenter Gary Lineker has been temporarily taken off the air, the public broadcaster said on Friday, after his criticism of the United Kingdom’s new migration policy sparked a dispute with his employer.
“The BBC has decided that it will withdraw from presenting match of the Day until we find an agreed and clear position on their use of social media,” the broadcaster said in a statement.
What did Lineker say?
Lineker took to Twitter on Tuesday to criticize the British government’s new policy of denying asylum to migrants arriving in small boats and sending them to their home countries or to so-called safe third countries.
Lineker shared a video of Interior Minister Suella Braverman talking about the law and said: “Oh my god, this is beyond horrible”.
Responding to another user, he described the measure as “an extremely brutal policy directed at the most vulnerable” and compared its wording to Nazi-era Germany.
The policy has also been condemned by opposition parties, charities and the UN refugee agency for its impact on genuine refugees.
Lineker was known to be politically engaged since his playing days, but he has perhaps become more outspoken on social media in recent years. He has drawn criticism from some observers in the UK – who argue he should not show political bias as a BBC sports presenter – on a number of similar occasions in the past.
“We’ve never said that Gary should be an opinion-free zone, or that he can’t consider issues that matter to him, but we have said that he should be protected from party politics or taking sides on political issues.” Must stay away.” controversy,” the BBC said in its statement.
match of the Day presenters retreat
Lineker, who hosted match of the Day For over 20 years, the show would go off-air when it was due to air on a Saturday.
The show, on air since 1964, is a roundup of extended highlights from weekend Premier League fixtures, usually including studio analysis led by Lineker.
Several of the show’s regular studio presenters, including Ian Wright, Alan Shearer, Jermaine Janes and Micah Richards, said they would not appear on the show without Lineker, the BBC said in Saturday’s edition. match of the Day Instead “the studios would focus on the action of the match without presentation or punditry.”
Soon after, all six of the show’s scheduled match commentators said they would be opting out of Saturday’s broadcast as well. He recommended that the BBC use World Feed commentary instead of its own play-by-play callers.
Braverman: ‘Flippant’ Nazi comparisons downplayed the tragedy of the Holocaust
Braverman appeared on the BBC’s Political Thinking podcast, released on Friday, and was asked about the week’s events and Lineker’s comments.
Braverman, whose husband is Jewish, said that Lineker crossed a line by saying that her language on the issue was “not dissimilar to the language used in 1930s Germany”.
Braverman argued, “My husband’s family really felt the effects of the Holocaust very seriously. To brush off such trivial analogies reduces the unspeakable tragedy.” And I don’t think anything is happening. Britain today can come close to what happened in the Holocaust. Therefore, I find it a lazy and unhelpful comparison to make.”
The issue has since been raised several times in the House of Commons this week, usually by Conservative MPs.
Meanwhile, Scotland’s outgoing First Minister Nicola Sturgeon called the BBC’s decision “impermissible”.
And the opposition Labor Party issued a statement calling the decision “cowardly” and “an attack on free speech in the face of political pressure”, concluding: “The BBC should reconsider.”
Meanwhile, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said: “Individual matters are a matter for the BBC.”
Lineker among BBC’s most recognizable faces around the world
Lineker is considered the BBC’s highest-paid presenter, with an annual salary of up to £1.35 million ($1.62 million) for hosting. match of the Day and other football coverage
The former Barcelona and Tottenham player was a household name before taking over the reins of the country’s premier football show soon after his retirement. He has been a staple of British screens on Saturday nights for decades now.
Lineker has hosted refugees in her home and has been an outspoken critic of the government’s treatment of asylum seekers in the past.
He has also ventured into other interests in recent years, including as the owner of the Goalhanger Network of podcasts.
zc/msh (Reuters, AFP, AP)