The departure of BBC star Gary Lineker drew fierce criticism from the British broadcaster on Saturday and the endorsement of many commentators and political figures for the former footballer, who sanctioned a tweet criticizing the government.
“Lineker riot”, “BBC mutiny”, “The Beebs Go Away” … Friday night’s announcement of the temporary suspension of Gary Lineker, former player and presenter of the hit show Match of the Day, sparked such an announcement. A protest that had largely dominated Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s visit to Paris the day before made the front pages of British newspapers.
The former English striker, who has presented the program since 1999, was suspended by the British audiovisual giant after he criticized on Tuesday a new Conservative government bill that seeks to prevent migrants arriving across the English Channel from seeking asylum in the UK, until he denounced the project. in the United Nations.
It was a “cruel policy towards the most vulnerable, in terms not unlike those used by Germany in the 1930s,” he wrote on Twitter, where the 62-year-old former player regularly shares his progressive views with his 8.8m followers.
– wave of support –
The BBC first reported that they would be speaking to the programme’s presenter. On Friday, the audiovisual group concluded that “(Gary Lineker) will stop presenting ‘Match of the Day’ until we reach a clear agreement with him on the use of social networks.”
The reaction was not long in coming: six commentators announced their withdrawal taking these “circumstances” into account, as well as program consultants such as former England internationals Ian Wright and Alan Shearer.
As a result, due to a staff shortage, the midday “Focus on Football” program was replaced at the last minute with the Antiques Buy and Sell program, while the Restoration program was scheduled to air at 4:30 pm local time (1:30 pm). GMT) instead of “final result”.
As for ‘Match Of The Day’, a real UK institution where the show has been broadcast since 1964, it will still be on the network this weekend, but there will be no review, no presenter, as the BBC revealed a solicitation of support For the former player has exceeded 165,000 signatures.
“We regret these changes and realize they are disappointing to BBC Sport fans,” the channel said in a statement. We are working to resolve the situation.”
On the political front, several figures denounced the audiovisual group’s decision, from the Labor opposition to Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who described the BBC’s position as “indefensible”, which, in her view, threatens freedom of expression in the face. from political pressure.”
According to the Daily Express on Saturday, a group of 36 British Conservative MPs were to write a letter to the group’s executive director, Tim Davey, to apologize “unreservedly” on the part of the presenter.
“The BBC has cast doubt on its credibility by appearing to be submitting to government pressure,” said former BBC director general Greg Dyke.
– neutrality –
The BBC has been regularly criticized lately, with accusations that it distorted coverage of Brexit and focused on the concerns of urban elites.
Since then, the group has claimed to make neutrality a “priority”. On government advice, Richard Sharpe is appointed in 2021 as BBC chief.
But the appointment has been criticized, as the former banker, a well-known Tory donor, allegedly helped former Prime Minister Boris Johnson secure an £800,000 ($960,000) loan before his appointment.
Gary Lineker, who scored 48 goals for England before retiring in 1994, has not publicly responded to the comment but reiterated this week that he stands by his words completely.
Nicknamed “Mr. Nice” for his irresistible behavior throughout his career (he never received a yellow card), he is a regular at voicing his political positions on social media, particularly against Brexit and in defense of immigrants.
On Saturday, Lineker was in Leicester, his hometown, where he began his professional career, to witness the “Foxes” match against Chelsea, in the English Premier League.
The new law, which, according to the government, aims to put an end to the arrival of immigrants across the English Channel, was criticized by human rights associations and the United Nations, which accused London of wanting to “put an end to the” right to asylum “.
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