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What BBC football presenter’s Twitter spat has to say about England

Editor’s note: March 13 bbc Says Gary Lineker will be back next weekend for “best game of the day.” It also announced an independent review of its social media guidelines.

Secondvery weekend, the football schedule changes. Except for one. “Today’s Game” first aired in 1964 and was bbcSaturday night schedule. But on March 11, the football highlights show was stripped down to its skeleton, including action clips from the day, without commentary or studio experts. Everything was over in 20 minutes instead of the scheduled 80 minutes. The show’s famous theme song, and even its title, are missing, too. The static screen read simply: “Premier League Highlights”.

This simple treatment is the product of a peculiarly UK row, sparked by the government’s tough policies on asylum seekers.The unrest has involved several interlinked state institutions: not only the bbc, the national sports and flagship football show, and Gary Lineker. A lethal striker in the 1980s and 90s (only three have scored more goals than his 48 for England), Mr Lineker recently launched Match of the Day.Although freelance, but not bbc As an employee, he was the company’s highest paid presenter and one of its best known. The dispute, both serious and trivial, is a maddening manifestation of Britain’s political divisions.

It all started on March 7, when Home Secretary Suella Braverman and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak unveiled legislation aimed at “stopping ships” that had been Bringing thousands of people to the English Channel to seek asylum. The bill would have nearly all of them detained and permanently deported. “OMG this is horrible,” Mr Lineker tweeted the same day. When one respondent objected, he fired back: “It’s just a brutal policy against the most vulnerable, in language no different from that used in Germany in the 30s, am I out of line?”

yes you are thunderous tory Congressmans and title writer in daily mailseized on Mr Lineker’s indiscreet hints about Nazi Germany – and demanded bbc Suspend or fire him. As he found out, many others defended his right to speak. Mr. Lineker silently stood his ground; he did not delete the tweet. After several days of nibbling, bbc Arguing that Mr Lineker had breached its impartiality rules, it said he would “retire” from the “Today’s Game”.

If the announcer thinks that’s the end of it, he’s wrong. Mr Lineker’s colleagues on the show – like him, former England stars – said they would not appear either. The same goes for potential stand-ins and game commentators. Other football shows earlier in the day were also canceled (although live radio commentary continued).Just before the highlights end, the first ten minutes bbcof the major news announcements (17 in total) devoted to this line.

The commotion is dividing the political and headline-writing classes in Britain along predictable lines. If you know where someone stands on Brexit, asylum seekers or working women or footballers take a knee or wear rainbow laces, you probably know where they stand on it. (In terms of free speech, maybe not: Many of the right-wingers who called for Lineker’s ouster have spoken out against “cancel culture.”) It might still be easing.this bbcDirector-General Tim Davie said on March 11 that he wanted Mr Lineker back on the show and that he was open to another look at the fairness rules for freelancers.

Mr Davey takes protection very seriously bbcThe impartiality of the broadcaster — the broadcaster is under constant attack from both the left and the right — but it’s unclear exactly how Lineker violated its social media guidelines.These say “mainly with bbc“Their activities on social media have the potential to endanger bbcimpartiality”. Although Mr. Lineker undoubtedly has bbc, very few people would mistake his opinion for that of the company. He is not a political host and said nothing on the air.

While Ms Braverman blasted Mr Lineker, Mr Sunak tried to stay out of it. On March 11, he praised Mr Lineker’s talents as a football player and broadcaster and said the incident was bbcrepair. That’s not helping the company as much as it seems: opposition parties have accused it of being too willing to bend to the government’s wishes.Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer accuses Labor of ‘bending to the Conservatives’ Congressmans” by suspending the star. The spat further appeals to Richard Sharp bbcChairman, resigned, and Mr Davy was asked if he would resign (he said no). Before Boris Johnson appointed him, Conservative party donor Sharp introduced the then prime minister to someone willing to lend him money. Mr Sharp denies any involvement in arranging the loan. Mr Davy was the Conservative Party candidate for Parliament in the 1990s.

Without one of its most famous shows, bbc There will be a business issue and a political issue. While funded by licensing fees, it still needs an audience, and Mr. Lineker and his colleagues have a choice as well as a voice.Mr Lineker no longer relies on weekly bbc If he ever had fame, it was thanks to his illustrious career, other media work and the small matter of his 8.8 million Twitter followers. Other broadcasters are sure to jump at the chance to sign him and pay him more than their companies.

In all of this, something has been forgotten: dinghies full of people continue to trek dangerously across the strait. The government claims its policies are pragmatic, legal and compassionate; its critics say the opposite is true. But don’t worry: “Match of the Day” will be back soon — or at least, long before a safe answer to the plight of asylum seekers is found.

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