Gary Lineker, former England footballer turned sports TV presenter for the BBC, arrives at the King Power Stadium in Leicester, central England on March 11, 2023.InternationalIndiaAfricaGary Lineker, former England striker and Match of the Day host, was suspended by the BBC on March 10 over a social media post where he criticized the UK government’s controversial asylum policy. The commentator had likened the Tory bill to Nazi practices.Disrupted sports coverage, pundits marching out in “solidarity,” and #Linekergate trending on Twitter – this was some of the fallout from the row that ensued after host of the BBC’s “Match of the Day” football program and former England striker Gary Lineker was suspended on March 9. So, what happened to trigger the scandal? Gary Lineker, who played for England’s national football team before becoming a sports pundit, hosting the soccer program “Match of the Day,” was suspended by the BBC after he weighed in on recent Tory asylum legislation on Twitter. One of the broadcaster’s highest-paid sports commentators compared the government’s plans to push through a bill that would crack down on illegal arrivals via the Channel to those of Germany in the 1930s.© Photo : GaryLinekerOriginal tweet of Gary Lineker, which resulted in his suspension.Original tweet of Gary Lineker, which resulted in his suspension.In response, the BBC, which touts itself as being “committed” to impartiality as “fundamental to our reputation, our values and the trust of audiences,” issued a statement that read:”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 Match of the Day until we’ve got an agreed and clear position on his use of social media.”However, Lineker is a freelance broadcaster, and not a permanent member of the BBC’s staff. When it comes to social media, the company guidelines note that it is “now part of everyday life” and staff are free to “engage in social media activities if they wish.” It adds that there is a need for “clear distinction” between accounts run by the BBC for BBC purposes and personal accounts run by employees for personal purposes.Lineker had tweeted from a personal account, with no official link to the BBC in the bio.ViralNetizens Question BBC Guidelines After Lineker Suspended as Presenter for Criticism of Asylum BillYesterday, 07:47 GMT
What Happened Next?
One by one, sports commentators started to express solidarity with their colleague. Pundits like Ian Wright, Alan Shearer, Jason Mohammad, and Alex Scott all refused to work after Lineker’s suspension. The result was a scramble to pull regular sports programs from the air amid the exodus of hosts.On Twitter, critics of the BBC’s move slammed its “bias and hypocrisy.”© Photo : TwitterTwitter screenshot.Twitter screenshot.© Photo : TwitterTwitter screenshot.Twitter screenshot.© Photo : TwitterTwitter screenshot.Twitter screenshot.Some went online to urge signing a petition demanding that BBC Chairman Richard Sharp quit over the row.© Photo : TwitterScreenshot of Twitter post featuring call to sign a petition for BBC chair Richard Sharp to resign after suspension of Gary Lineker.Screenshot of Twitter post featuring call to sign a petition for BBC chair Richard Sharp to resign after suspension of Gary Lineker.On Sunday, BBC Director General Tim Davie, while apologizing for the sports programming disruption, insisted the corporation wanted Lineker “back on air.””Let’s be clear – we’ve got the best sports broadcaster in the world. We want to make sure that he can come back on air, we work together to make that happen and everyone wants to see a reasonable solution to this. As a keen sports fan, I know to miss programming is a real blow and I’m sorry about that. We are working very hard to resolve this situation and make sure we get output on air. I am in listening mode. I want to make sure that going forward, we have a workable solution.”WorldUK Home Secretary Defies UN and BBC’s Gary Lineker on Illegal Immigrant Law8 March, 13:47 GMTAt the moment of publication, Lineker himself has not commented on the latest development.