sports programs on TV and radio scrapped
Several sports programs from the British broadcaster BBC were pulled from television or radio at the last minute Saturday because presenters, commentators and analysts refuse to go to work. For example, there will be no live radio coverage of Premier League matches Saturday afternoon.
The reason is the (temporary) departure of sports presenter Gary Lineker, who for the time being will not host the soccer program Match of the Day (MOTD) will present after outcry over a tweet he sent about British asylum policy. According to the BBC, Lineker thereby violated the British public broadcaster’s guidelines on political speech.
Solidarity with Lineker
Since then, several BBC employees have shown solidarity with Lineker by also not presenting their program on Saturday. The BBC One television programs Football Focus and Final Score will not be broadcast, as will radio show on BBC Radio 5 Fighting Talk.
Football Focus-presenter Alex Scott tweeted that it “doesn’t feel right” for her to continue with the show. Jason Mohammad, who Final Score presents, and Colin Murray, of Fighting Talk, also announced via Twitter that they will not appear on TV and radio. BBC Sports presenter Kelly Somers also said she will not be working.
The BBC responded Saturday to the withdrawal of programs and the reshuffling of programming. The broadcaster apologized for the programming changes and said it is “aware of the disappointment for BBC Sport fans.”
On Friday, the BBC already issued a statement saying that Lineker off-air will remain until he “takes a consenting and clear position on the use of his social media.”
The program Match of the Day, which has been broadcasting weekly soccer match summaries since 1964, will be televised Saturday, but without the usual presentation, analysis and interviews with players and coaches. And without Lineker.
On Saturday, the English Premier League announced that players and coaches of the 12 clubs in action today will not receive any requests to speak before or after the match with MOTD.
Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA), the English players’ union, confirmed that and announced that it wants to “express support for those who chose not to be part of the program tonight.”
New asylum plans
The immediate cause for Lineker’s tweet is a tweet from the British Home Secretary, Suella Braverman. In a video, she lays out the government’s asylum plans. The plan is to prevent illegal migrants from being granted asylum.
Under the new law, these people would have to be taken to their countries of origin or a safe “third” country such as Rwanda. “We must stop the boats,” the video reads above.
Lineker himself has not yet commented on the issue. According to Dan Walker, a former presenter at the BBC, Lineker simply wants to remain a presenter but is unwilling to apologize for his statement.