The BBC has announced that Gary Lineker will no longer present “Match of the Day” following tweets he posted criticizing the government’s immigration policy. A BBC spokesperson said that Lineker will “step back” from the show until his use of social media is clarified. Lineker had called the Home Secretary’s statement “beyond awful” and criticized the government’s immigration policy as “immeasurably cruel.” He also compared the language used to describe people arriving in the UK via small boats to that used by Germany in the 1930s, a comparison that the Home Secretary found deeply offensive.
While BBC staff are expected to remain impartial and avoid expressing personal opinions, some argue that as a freelance sports presenter, different rules may apply to Lineker. Lineker’s colleagues Ian Wright and Alan Shearer have also declared they will not present the show in “solidarity.”
BBC Chairman Richard Sharp, a former Conservative Party donor, is facing scrutiny after a cross-party group of MPs alleged that he facilitated a loan for then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson while applying for his BBC post. Sharp denies the allegations and has resisted calls to resign, while his appointment is currently under investigation.
The Labour Party criticized the BBC’s decision to remove Gary Lineker from presenting “Match of the Day,” calling it cowardly and an assault on free speech in the face of political pressure.
PM Rishi Sunak commented on the situation with Gary Lineker and the BBC, saying that he hopes it can be resolved in a timely manner but it is ultimately a matter for the BBC.
“As prime minister, I have to do what I believe is right, respecting that not everyone will always agree. That is why I have been unequivocal in my approach to stopping the boats,” said Sunak. “Gary Lineker was a great footballer and is a talented presenter. I hope that the current situation between Gary Lineker and the BBC can be resolved in a timely manner, but it is rightly a matter for them, not the government.”