Football fans are expressing their disappointment with the BBC after Gary Lineker was taken off air. The presenter was asked to “step back” following a tweet he made about the government’s new immigration policy. Many viewers are furious with the decision and some have even claimed they will boycott Match of the Day. Lineker is a former Tottenham and Barcelona striker who has become a well-known sports presenter in recent years. He has been a regular host of Match of the Day for many seasons.
The controversy began when Lineker compared the government’s language over the Illegal Migration Bill to that used in 1930s Germany. This sparked criticism from Tories, including home secretary Suella Braverman, who accused him of breaching BBC impartiality rules. However, many football followers have backed Lineker for both his opinion and his right to speak out.
The BBC has said that Lineker will be absent from Match of the Day “until we’ve got an agreed and clear position on his use of social media”. The broadcaster has praised Lineker’s sports coverage as “second to none”, but has said that he should “keep well away from taking sides” on party political topics.
Lineker’s colleagues, including fellow ex-England players Ian Wright, Alan Shearer and Jermaine Jenas, plus former Lionesses star Alex Scott, have refused to appear on the show as a sign of support for him. This forced the BBC to decide there would be no hosts at all this weekend.
Many fans have expressed their frustration with Lineker’s absence from the show. Some have even vowed to boycott Match of the Day until he is reinstated. Others have praised Lineker’s colleagues for standing in solidarity with him against the BBC.
The controversy highlights the tension between broadcasters and their presenters over social media use. While presenters are often encouraged to engage with their audiences on social media, they are also expected to maintain impartiality on political issues. This can be a difficult balancing act, especially when presenters have strong opinions on controversial topics.
In the case of Gary Lineker, it remains to be seen whether he will return to Match of the Day or whether the BBC will take a harder line on his social media use. Whatever happens, it is clear that football fans are passionate about their sport and their presenters, and will not hesitate to voice their opinions when they feel that something is not right.