And we’re back… discussing Gary Lineker’s social media. The “Match of the Day” presenter retweeted a post that called for Israel to be banned from international football tournaments “until it ends its grave violations of international law”. He has since removed it from his feed. Forget what you think about what is going on in the Middle East. The BBC now has strict guidelines about presenters’ use of tools like Twitter. Indeed, the BBC essentially had to rewrite its social media guidelines after a Tweet by Lineker ended up with a weekend of no sport on the national broadcaster.
While I hate to pre-empt the inevitable investigation, I find it hard to see how the MOTD presenter has not violated the new rules. Similarly, I find it impossible to believe he didn’t know he was doing that when he hit the repost button, yet he chose to do it anyway. Lineker is one of the highest-paid presenters at the BBC and he is now openly mocking the corporation. Remember, he even publicly endorsed the new social media guidelines when they were announced.
I’ve written before that I think the host’s time at the BBC is coming to an end. The last 24 hours has only made me surer of that. Indeed, Adam Sherwin at the i reported that he may be ousted for this summer’s Euros:
BBC insiders suggested that publicly opposing the participation of Israel would cast doubt over his ability to present the Euros with impartiality, with one describing it as “typical Gary”, while another said: “This is a worse case than usual.”
Indeed it is. It is also indicative of a many who has lost all respect for both his employers. Remember, Carol Vorderman left a much lesser role at the BBC because she didn’t want to surpress her opinions.
Gary Lineker Causes Social Media Strife
Lineker’s Twitter feed is peppered with political takes. These include posts mocking defence secretary Grant Schapps and multiple retweets of Green MP Caroline Lucas. On October 7, as Israeli security forces were still trying to fight off terrorists and stop even more death and destruction, Lineker tweeted about Spurs going top of the league. At least he managed to keep to his beat then.
He did retweet the rather lame FA statement put out on October 12.
As it happens, the specific politics of what Lineker posted is not particularly relevant. Everything I’ve written above would be true if he had written something pro-Israel. What matters is that it is politics. The executive summary of the BBC’s social media guidelines explicitly states that “flagship-Brand Presenters must refrain from campaigning in party politics or for activist organisations.”
That said, it is worth briefly exploring who he chose to retweet. The account was “The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel”, part of Boycott, Divesment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. This is a movement that seeks to culturally and economcially isolate the world’s only Jewish state (and the only democracy in the Middle East).
Enough is enough now. Gary Lineker knew what he was doing. The BBC handled the previous row badly. This time it must put an end to this farce and let the MOTD presenter go.
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