The BBC, increasingly weakened after a decade of cuts and pressure from different conservative governments, has been unable to resist the latest pulse raised around the figure of ex-soccer player and media star, Gary Lineker. The public corporation has decided to suspend the presenter from his position at the helm of the popular program Match of the Day (The Match of the Day) until the management of the entity and Lineker close an agreement on the rules of use of social networks by the latter.
The outcome of this matter, which has captured the attention of the media throughout the week, has yet to be written. The BBC is facing an internal rebellion over its drastic decision. Former footballers and commentators Ian Wright and Alan Shearer, who co-host the popular show with Lineker, have already told management that they will not be in front of the cameras this Saturday in solidarity with their friend and colleague. “Everyone knows what it means to me Match of the Day, but I’ve already told the BBC that I won’t do it tomorrow. Solidarity,” Wright announced on Twitter. Next came Shearer.
Other collaborators of the program who did not plan to participate this Saturday, such as Micah Richards or Jermaine Jemas, have also used social networks to make it clear that they would not have sat on the set either if they had been called by the producers of the program. Late on Friday, the BBC announced that the program, which broadcasts abridged and edited versions of the matches of the day before giving way to comments, would consist only of the images of the matches this Saturday, without a star presenter or collaborators.
The top scorer at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico with the England team, formerly of Leicester City, Everton, Barcelona or Tottenham, and one of the best strikers in the world in his active years, had managed to rekindle the anger of British Conservative and Downing Street MPs harshly criticizing on Twitter Sunak’s new Law against Illegal Immigration. He rained on wet. Lineker had already warmed up the tories on other occasions, by clearly taking a stand against Brexit.
Despite being a collaborator in sports spaces, and therefore not being exposed to the same editorial standards as newsroom journalists, the conservatives have not stopped pressuring the BBC to demand objectivity and impartiality from Lineker policy to which the corporation is bound. The first reaction of its CEO, Tim Davie, had led to the general conclusion that the star presenter would receive a personal reprimand, period. “Never in my life have I received as much support and love as the one I am receiving (apart from when I scored the goals for England in the World Cup, possibly)”, the former player had written on Twitter this Wednesday, who assumed that he would follow the in front of Match of The Day this same Saturday: “I want to thank each one of you. Your support means a lot. I will continue to try to speak for those poor souls who have no voice. Thank you all”.
However, twenty-four hours before the broadcast of the program, the BBC issued a statement in which it acknowledged that it had given its arm to twist. “When it comes to leading our coverage of soccer and other sports, Gary is second to none. We have never said that Gary should avoid all opinion, or that he cannot take a specific position on issues that concern him, but we did make it clear to him that he should avoid taking one side or the other on matters of party politics or political controversies. ”, The BBC said in a statement in which it stated emphatically that “Lineker’s recent activity on social networks has violated our behavior guideline”.
Lineker came to compare the language used by the Minister of the Interior, Suella Braverman, to defend the new law with the language used in Nazi Germany in the years before World War II. “This [el nuevo proyecto de ley] it is simply an incredibly cruel political measure that targets the most vulnerable people, in language not much different from what was used in Germany in the 1930s. And am I the one who has gone out of tune? ”, The ex-soccer player wrote on Twitter.
Braverman, married to a Jew, led the stream of angry responses Lineker garnered from conservatives. She accused the presenter of “degrading the unspeakable tragedy” of the Holocaust [al que el presentador nunca hizo referencia] and described his comparison as “lazy and unhelpful.”
The controversy unleashed by the presenter has occupied almost the same space and attention in the British media as the immigration law itself, and has divided public opinion. If conservative politicians and voters voiced their rejection of Lineker’s comments, his followers made their support clear on social media, with some of the presenter’s tweets garnering up to 250,000 likes.
Lineker has been presenting Match of The Day almost twenty five years. He has made a lot of money from his time on television, which has caused the UK media right to attack his political comments, include him in the so-called champagne labor (champagne Labour) – the derogatory term for progressive personalities with money – and I repeat over and over again that you talk about football and not politics. The former soccer player won 1.5 million euros for his collaboration with the BBC during the 2020-2021 season.
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