Gary Lineker to "step back from presenting MOTD" following social media controversy
A shocking revelation for football fans this afternoon.
Match of the Day host and former England international, Gary Lineker, is set to "step back from presenting" the beloved football highlights show.
NEW: BBC says that Gary Lineker is to "step back from presenting Match of the Day until agreement reached on social media."
— Lewis Goodall (@lewis_goodall) March 10, 2023
The news comes off the back of a social media storm which has embroiled the former Tottenham Hotspur and Barcelona striker, who this week tweeted his disgust with the UK government's new asylum policy.
Good heavens, this is beyond awful. https://t.co/f0fTgWXBwp
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) March 7, 2023
In a now deleted tweet, Lineker compared the newly-adopted refugee policy "to that used by Germany in the 30's", immediately sparking outrage on the platform.
The new Illegal Migration Bill to which Lineker is referring to, was unveiled this week by British Home Secretary Suella Braverman.
A highly contentious piece of legislation, the bill seeks to grant the UK government the ability to detain migrants who enter the country illegally without bail or judicial review, before being deported.
In the aftermath of the 62-year-old football presenter's response, the BBC had reportedly asked to hold talks with Lineker, under the guise of reminding him of his social media 'responsibilities' and of the broadcaster's supposed political impartiality.
"We have said that we consider his recent social media activity to be a breach of our guidelines. The BBC has decided that he will step back from presenting MOTD until we've got an agreed and clear position on his use of social media."
— Lewis Goodall (@lewis_goodall) March 10, 2023
The 80-time-capped England forward had been presenting the BBC's flagship football show since 1999, with many football fans growing up watching Lineker and his guests break down the weekend's Premier League action.
In a statement released today, the BBC said regarding Lineker's "stepping back" that "We consider his recent social media activity to be a breach of our guidelines. The BBC has decided that he will step back from presenting MOTD until we've got an agreed and clear position on his use of social media".
The decision to stand down Lineker from his presenting duties has sparked outrage amongst avid MOTD watchers and the football fan community in general, with the hashtag #ImWithGary trending across Twitter.
Source close to Gary Lineker says he has not agreed to step back from MOTD - claiming the BBC has taken him off air.
It’s understood Lineker is unwilling to apologise for his tweets and admit he should not have posted them.
The BBC has been approached for comment. https://t.co/w4rhDVcVVE
— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) March 10, 2023
However, contrary to the BBC's claims about Lineker taking a "step back", it reported that the presenter himself did not agree with the decision, and believes his employer has removed him from the air.
It also reported that the Leicester-born footballer is unwilling to to apologise for his tweets regarding the new Illegal Migration Bill, or admit that he should not have posted them.
In an added twist for the BBC, one of Lineker's regular co-presenters on MOTD, Ian Wright, has come out in support of his friend and co-presenter.
The Arsenal legend tweeted on Friday afternoon following the BBC's announcement that "Everybody knows what MOTD means to me, but I've told the BBC I won't be doing it tomorrow. Solidarity".
Everybody knows what Match of the Day means to me, but I’ve told the BBC I won’t be doing it tomorrow. Solidarity.
— Ian Wright (@IanWright0) March 10, 2023
Arsenal's second all-time leading goalscorer rejoined the show in 2015, appearing as regular analyst alongside the likes Alan Shearer, Danny Murphy and Jermaine Jenas.
Wright is not the only profile name to come out in support of Lineker though, with his long-time critic, TV personality Piers Morgan, appearing to have squashed their differences and backed the presenter.
Morgan tweeted; "WTF? How pathetically spineless... I now demand the BBC suspend every presenter who has made a public comment about news or current affairs".
According to Sky News reporter Matthew Thompson, Lineker did not agree to 'step back' but was instead taken off air as he was 'unwilling' to apologise for his comments.
NEW: Sky News understands the BBC statement on Gary Lineker is incorrect.
That Lineker has not agreed to 'step back', and has instead been taken off air as he is unwilling to apologise for his comments this week on social media.
— Matthew Thompson (@mattuthompson) March 10, 2023
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