Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Ian Wright boycotts Match of the Day in ‘solidarity’ with Gary Lineker

Ian Wright has announced he will not be appearing on Match of the Day out of “solidarity” with Gary Lineker, who the BBC said will “step back” from presenting the show due to his use of social media.

Lineker has been involved in a row over impartiality after criticising the government’s asylum policy on small boats.

Wright was scheduled to be a pundit alongside Lineker but tweeted to say he will not be doing so after the BBC’s statement.

The former Arsenal and England striker said: “Everybody knows what Match of the Day means to me, but I’ve told the BBC I won’t be doing it tomorrow. Solidarity.”

The BBC said Lineker will not present the show until an agreement is reached on social media use, after being embroiled in a row over impartiality by comparing the language used to launch a new government asylum policy with 1930s Germany.

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A spokesperson said the corporation has been in “extensive discussions with Gary and his team in recent days”.

“We have said that we consider his recent social media activity to be a breach of our guidelines,” a statement said.

“The BBC has decided that he will step back from presenting Match of the Day until we’ve got an agreed and clear position on his use of social media.”

The statement added: “When it comes to leading our football and sports coverage, Gary is second to none. We have never said that Gary should be an opinion free zone, or that he can’t have a view on issues that matter to him, but we have said that he should keep well away from taking sides on party political issues or political controversies.”

A source close to the presenter has told Sky News that the corporation has taken him off air, as he is unwilling to apologise for his comments this week on social media and admit he should not have done it.