AN argument between Gary Lineker and the BBC meant that last Saturday’s Match of the Day was very different to the usual programme.
BBC bosses told Lineker he couldn’t present the show, following comments he made on Twitter. Other sports presenters and commentators pulled out in support. It meant the highlights were shown without any presenters or commentators and the show lasted 20 minutes.
But what’s going on?
The row is all about what Lineker is allowed to say on social media. He made comments on Twitter that led to the BBC removing him from the show temporarily. Lineker used Twitter to criticise the language that some Government politicians have been using about new immigration plans. He said that the words said were like those “used by Germany in the ’30s” – a time when the Nazis were in control of the country.
What has the BBC said?
The BBC said Lineker’s comments were against its guidelines and that he “should keep well away” from taking sides on political issues. But, other sports presenters supported him by saying they wouldn’t appear on other BBC Sport shows, which then couldn’t be shown either.
On the other side of the row, some people, including many politicians, said that the BBC was right to remove Lineker because he shouldn’t have said what he did.
The BBC’s Director-General Tim Davie said sorry for the cancelled shows and that he was working hard to sort things out with Lineker.
What was Lineker upset about?
Last week the Government announced its plan to come down hard on migrants arriving in Britain “illegally”. The new plan means these people would never be allowed to claim asylum in the future and stay in the UK.
The Government’s hard line is because of a big increase in the number of people crossing the English Channel in small boats. Criminal gangs charge migrants lots of money to be put on small boats to the UK, but it’s a very dangerous way to get here and many have drowned.
But some other politicians, organisations and well-known people, including Lineker, think the plan is wrong.
Lineker wrote on social media that the plan was cruel to vulnerable people and that the language used was “not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the ’30s”. At that time, Hitler and the Nazis controlled Germany, and Jewish people and many others were discriminated against.
The Government’s Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, who announced the plan, was furious. Her husband is Jewish and she said Lineker’s comment was “lazy and unhelpful”, and diminished “the unspeakable tragedy” of the Holocaust, in which more than six million Jewish people were killed by the Nazis.
Why does the BBC care what he says?
The BBC needs to air different views on issues, particularly those in the news, and isn’t meant to have an opinion itself. BBC News journalists always need to be impartial.
Although Lineker isn’t a journalist, he’s been a big name on the BBC for decades, so the BBC thinks he should be careful what views he expresses. But other people think he should be able to say whatever he wants about things he cares a lot about. He has campaigned for refugee rights before and welcomed some into his home.
What’s happening now?
The BBC has announced a review of its social media guidelines, focusing on how it applies to those who don’t work on news programmes. Lineker will return to host Match of the Day this weekend. He wrote on Twitter that the difficult situation he found himself in recently doesn’t compare to “having to flee your home from persecution or war to seek refuge in a land far away”.
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