More breakdowns in BBC coverage as Lineker crisis deepens

LONDON (AP) — The BBC’s sports broadcasts faced a second day of major disruption on Sunday as dozens of staff walked out…

LONDON (AP) — The BBC’s sports broadcasts faced a second day of major disruption on Sunday as dozens of staff walked off the job in solidarity with chief football presenter Gary Lineker, who was sacked by the broadcaster after he tweeted criticism of the British government’s asylum policy.

The BBC was under increasing pressure to resolve the crisis, and there were growing calls for its managers to resign due to accusations of political bias and suppression of freedom of speech.

The BBC suspended Lineker, one of English football’s most lauded players and the corporation’s highest-paid executive, on Friday after he posted a tweet criticizing Britain’s new migration policy and comparing his language about migrants to the language used in Nazi Germany.

It sparked a huge backlash, with many BBC sports presenters and reporters walking off their jobs on Saturday in support of Lineker.

As a result, several daytime football shows were canceled at the last minute, and Match of the Day, a popular late-night program that showed highlights of the day’s Premier League games and has been considered something of a British institution since the 1960s, was broadcast without commentary. and only showed shortened footage. Usually lasting about an hour and a half, Saturday’s “Match of the Day” only aired for 20 minutes.

The presenters are not expected to accompany Sunday’s coverage of the Women’s Super League and Match of the Day 2.

Tim Davey, director general of the BBC, apologized for the disruption.

“It’s been a difficult day and I’m very sorry that the audience was affected and didn’t get to see the program,” Davey said on Saturday. “We are working very hard to resolve the situation and make sure we get back on the air.”

Lineker, 62, is one of Britain’s most powerful media figures and the BBC’s highest earner, earning 1.35 million pounds ($1.6 million) last year.

One of England’s all-time leading strikers with 48 goals in 80 internationals, he was a household name in the UK before becoming the main presenter of Match of the Day in 1999.

The row began with a tweet on Tuesday from Lineker’s account, which described the government’s plan to detain and deport migrants arriving by boat as an “immeasurably cruel policy aimed at the most vulnerable people in language not dissimilar to that used by Germany in 30s. »

The Conservative government called Lineker’s comparison to Nazis offensive and unacceptable, and some lawmakers said he should be fired.

It was the latest row over the role of the 100-year-old BBC, which is funded by a license fee paid by all households with a TV.

The broadcaster’s neutrality has recently come under scrutiny following revelations that its chairman Richard Sharpe – a Conservative Party donor – helped arrange a loan for then-prime minister Boris Johnson in 2021, just weeks before he was appointed to BBC position on government recommendation.


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