Gary Lineker: The BBC’s flagship football program is facing a boycott over a row over impartiality

(CNN) The BBC is facing a boycott of its flagship football programme, Match of the Day, as well as other football coverage, after announcing that presenter… Gary Lineker He will “back off” the programme, having been embroiled in a row over neutrality when he criticized UK government policy on Twitter.

As Britain’s public broadcaster, the BBC is bound by the principle of “due impartiality” – a much-discussed term and the organization has been He specifies as holding “the authority to be held accountable consistently” while not “allowing ourselves to be used in a campaign to change public policy”.

So when Lineker criticized the government’s controversial new asylum-seekers policy on Twitter and later resigned from his presenting duties this week, it sparked controversy leaving the BBC under fire from opposition politicians, the BECTU union representing BBC staff, and its former director. Gen. Greg Dyke.

CNN contacted the BBC for comment but did not receive an immediate response.

On Tuesday, Lineker tweeted a video posted to Twitter by the UK Home Office announcing the new proposed policy – attempt Stopping migrant boats from crossing the English Channel from France, which has been criticized by the United Nations and other international bodies.

He added, “There is no massive influx of refugees. We take in far fewer refugees than other major European countries. This is just an immeasurably harsh policy targeting the most vulnerable people with language not unlike that used by Germany in the 1930s, and am I out of service?”

The BBC then announced on Friday that Lineker would “retract from presenting today’s match until we have reached an agreed and clear position on his use of social media”, adding that it considered his recent social media activity to be a breach of its guidelines. .

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In response, first pundits, then commentators, and then even Premier League teams announced their intention to boycott the show in support of Lineker.

“Under the circumstances, we do not feel it would be appropriate to take part in the programme,” BBC commentators Steve Wilson, Conor McNamara, Robyn Quinn and Stephen Withe said in a joint statement released late Friday.

Gary Lineker is at the center of the impartiality dispute.

Meanwhile, the Professional Footballers’ Association announce On Saturday, he said, “The players participating in today’s matches will not be required to participate in interviews for today’s match.”

“The union is speaking to members who want to take a collective stand and be able to show their support for those who have chosen not to participate in the Tonight Show,” the statement added.

“Throughout those conversations, we made it clear that, as a union, we will support all members who may face consequences for choosing not to complete their broadcast obligations. This is a logical decision that ensures players are not placed in that position now.”

political disagreement

The boycott has thrown the BBC’s sports coverage into disarray, with its other football programmes – Football Fox and Final Score – as well as radio programs taken off the air.

Former BBC director general Greg Dyke said the broadcaster had “undermined its credibility” by suspending Linker because it appeared to “bow to government pressure”.

First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon chirp: “As a staunch supporter of public service broadcasting, I want to be able to defend the BBC. But the decision to remove Gary Lineker from broadcasting cannot be justified. It undermines freedom of expression in the face of political pressure – and always seems to be right-wing pressure to succumb to” .

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Deputy leader of the opposition Labor Party, Angela Rayner, also criticized the BBC’s decision in a tweet on Saturday.

“The BBC’s cowardly decision to take Gary Lineker off the air is an assault on freedom of expression in the face of political pressure from Tory politicians. They need to think again,” she wrote on Twitter.

While Nadine Dorris, a member of the ruling Conservative Party and former Minister of Culture, welcomed the BBC’s decision, Twitter“The news that Gary Lineker has resigned from the investigation is welcome and shows that the BBC is serious about impartiality.

“Gary deserves his views – freedom of speech is paramount. A lot of non-public service broadcasters can adapt to him and his views and he’ll be better paid.”

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