Following a tweet written by Gary Lineker earlier this week, the BBC issued a statement indicating that the ex-Leicester City striker would ‘step down’ from his presenting role on Match of the Day. Lineker tweeted that the UK Government’s plans to curb illegal immigration ‘is an immeasurably cruel policy directed at the most vulnerable people, in language that is not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s’.
The BBC have decided that while Gary Lineker is a freelance sports reporter and not an employee, his comments breach their impartiality regulations – and have forced him to ‘step down’ from presenting with immediate effect, until a ‘clear position on his use of social media’ can be agreed.
In light of the announcement, Ian Wright and Alan Shearer have also said they will not be appearing on Saturday’s episode of Match of the Day – leaving the show without a presenter. The decision has attracted further criticism given the BBC’s heavy political stance throughout the Qatar World Cup – in which they opted to focus on the human rights debate surrounding the tournament, rather than screening the Opening Ceremony on terrestrial television.
Several other high-profile pundits, including Micah Richards and Alex Scott, added that they would not appear on the programme if they were approached by the BBC to do so. Late on Friday evening, MOTD’s commentators agreed that they too would snub Saturday’s episode in solidarity with Gary Lineker. A tweet from Steve Wilson reads: ‘As commentators on MOTD, we have decided to step down from tomorrow night’s broadcast. We are comforted that football fans who want to watch their teams should still be able to do so, as management can use World Feed commentary if they so wish’.