Gary Lineker brands BBC impartiality ‘almost unresolvable’

Gary Lineker says it’s ‘important’ he uses his platform

Gary Lineker was suspended by BBC bosses in March after he criticised the Conservative government’s immigration policy on Twitter.

His suspension from presenting duties on Match of the Day triggered a mass walkout of BBC sporting staff and the broadcaster reinstated him three days later.

Gary opened up about the suspension during a new interview with Channel 4 News while in Rome receiving the Sport and Human Rights Awards from Amnesty International.

Reflecting on the circumstances which led to his suspension, Gary, 62, said: “I felt vindicated to act, I was never in any doubt that I’d done something horrendously wrong or anything other than support people in dreadful circumstances, fleeing war, fleeing climate change, all kinds of things that can culminate in a person having to leave their home, which is unimaginable, really.

“I think it just got slightly out of control. It was disproportionate. So I was never overly worried that way.”

When asked if the Director General’s position was weakened, Gary shared: “It’s an incredibly difficult job. Impartiality is really tricky at the BBC and I think it’s an issue that is almost unresolvable.” has contacted the BBC for comment.

The ex-footballer added: “I am a little bit the kind of person that if I am told to not do something it will drive me to do it even further – I will continue to speak out.

“I had an agreement with the BBC that I would continue to talk about refugee cause and climate change, two things that are very important to me, that I’ve been involved in campaigning and such for a number of years. So I will continue to do that.

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“Obviously sometimes people will say that crosses a political line a little bit but almost everything does in life, and that includes football as well.

“People say stick to football, stay out of politics. They’re kind of entwined. So yeah, I’ll carry on.”

Gary, who has been hosting Match of the Day for more than two decades, also stressed how “people are entitled to their opinion”.

He said he didn’t “see how much someone’s salary is relevant in any way, shape or form as to whether you have an opinion”.

In March, the BBC said Gary would not be returning to his long-time presenting role “until we’ve got an agreed and clear position on his use of social media”.

Speaking in the House of Commons earlier this year, Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer said Gary’s remark on Twitter was both “disappointing and inappropriate”.

Match of the Day continues on Sunday on BBC One at 10.30pm and episodes are available to watch on BBC iPlayer.

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