Former England football captain and BBC presenter Gary Lineker has been temporarily taken off air, the public broadcaster said on Friday, after his criticism of the UK’s new migration policy he raised a dispute with his employer.
“The BBC has decided that he will withdraw from presenting Match of the day until they have 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 new British government policy to deny asylum to migrants who arrive in small boats and deport them to their country of origin or so-called safe third countries.
Lineker shared a video of Home Secretary Suella Braverman talking about the law and added: “Good heavens, this is more terrible.”
In a reply to another user, he went on to describe the measure as “an immensely cruel policy aimed at the most vulnerable people” and compared its formulation to Nazi-era Germany.
The politics he was also convicted from opposition parties, charities and the UN refugee agency for its impact on real refugees.
Lineker has been known to be politically engaged since his playing days, but has arguably become more outspoken on social media in recent years. He has courted criticism from some observers in the UK – who argue he should not show political bias as a BBC sports presenter – on several similar occasions in the past.
“We never said that Gary should be a no-opinion zone, or that he can’t have a view on issues that matter to him, but we did say that he should stay away from taking sides on party political issues or policies. controversial,” the BBC said in its statement.
Match of the day presenters retire
Lineker, who hosted Match of the day for more than 20 years, it will be off-air when the show is scheduled to air on Saturday.
The show, on air since 1964, is a recap of extended highlights from the weekend’s Premier League matches, usually including studio analysis led by Lineker.
After several of the show’s regular studio presenters including Ian Wright, Alan Shearer, Jermaine Jenas and Micah Richards said they would not appear on the show without Lineker, the BBC said that Saturday’s edition. Match of the day instead “focus on match action without studio presentation or punditry”.
Shortly after, all six of the show’s scheduled match commentators went on to say they were sitting out Saturday’s broadcast as well. They recommended that the BBC use World Feed commentators instead, rather than their own play-by-play callers.
Braverman: “Flippant” Nazi comparison diminished the tragedy of the Holocaust
Braverman appeared on the BBC’s Political Thought podcast, published on Friday, and was asked about the week’s events and Lineker’s comments.
Braverman, whose husband is Jewish, said Lineker crossed a line when he said his language on the subject “is not dissimilar to that used in 1930s Germany.”
“My husband’s family feels very much the impact of the Holocaust, actually. To throw out these kinds of flippant analogies diminishes the unspeakable tragedy that many people have gone through,” said Braverman, arguing: “And I don’t think not anything that happens. in the United Kingdom today can come close to what happened in the Holocaust. So, it seems to me a lazy and useless comparison to make.”
This followed the issue being raised several times in the House of Commons this week, typically by Tory MPs.
Meanwhile, Scotland’s outgoing first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, called the BBC’s decision “indefensible”.
And the opposition Labor Party published a statement calling the decision “cowardly” and “an assault on freedom of expression in the face of political pressure”, concluding: “BBC must rethink”.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport, meanwhile, said: “Individual cases are a matter for the BBC.”
Lineker among the most recognizable faces of the BBC in 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 shortly after his retirement. It has now been a staple on British screens on Saturday nights for decades.
Lineker has welcomed refugees into his home and has vocally criticized the government’s treatment of asylum seekers in the past.
He has also branched out into other interests in recent years, including as owner of the Goalhanger podcast network.
zc/msh (Reuters, AFP, AP)