5 Times Gary Lineker Has Defied Critics To Hit Out At The Government

“I’ll continue to try and speak up for those poor souls that have no voice.”
Gary Lineker has spoken out on a series of issues.
Gary Lineker has spoken out on a series of issues.
CARL RECINE via Reuters

Gary Lineker has vowed to continue to “speak up for those poor souls that have no voice” as he faced a backlash for comparing the language used to launch a new asylum policy with 1930s Germany.

The Match Of The Day host was critcised by home secretary Suella Braverman among others after he called the government’s proposed measures “cruel”.

A BBC source said the corporation is taking the matter “seriously” and expects to have a “frank conversation” with the 62-year-old.

Following the criticism on Wednesday, Lineker wrote on Twitter “anything going on?” and then followed this up with another post saying the “freedom of speech champions” were “demanding silence from those with whom they disagree”.

“I have never known such love and support in my life than I’m getting this morning (England World Cup goals aside, possibly),” he also wrote. “I’ll continue to try and speak up for those poor souls that have no voice.”

And it’s not the first time he has been outspoken in his views on the government – here are five instances from just the last 18 months.

1. The Qatar World Cup

In October, he criticised foreign secretary James Cleverly after he suggested LGBTQ+ football fans attending the World Cup in Qatar should be “respectful of the host nation”.

Cleverly urged fans to show “a little bit of flex and compromise” and to “respect the culture” of the host nation, where homosexuality remains a crime, prompting criticism from campaigners including Peter Tatchell.

Responding to his comments on Twitter, Match Of The Day presenter Lineker, 61, wrote: “Whatever you do, don’t do anything Gay. Is that the message?”

2. Treatment of refugees

Also in October, Lineker criticised the Home Office’s treatment of a refugee who stayed in his home.

The former England striker revealed how he took in a 26-year-old man who was caught up in a military coup and escaped 18 months of imprisonment, only to endure “hell” in the UK’s asylum system.

Lineker, one of the BBC’s highest paid presenters, previously offered his Surrey home to a refugee from Balochistan, and more recently the man from Turkey.

Speaking about his second guest, he told The Daily Mirror: “He’s a really smart kid and wants to be a rocket scientist, actually.

“He was with us about a month and was such a sweet kid and has now gone to university.”

On the refugee’s escape from Turkey, Lineker said: “He got out, and then he spent 18 months in our Home Office system where he was treated like s***. He said it was hell.”

3. Dumping raw sewage in the sea

In August, he joined the government backlash over new post-Brexit legislation governing water quality.

Ministers were forced to U-turn after rejecting an amendment to the Environment Bill which would have forced water companies to stop allowing untreated sewage to enter British waterways.

Instead, they insisted a “progressive reduction” in the practice.

But many have seized on the fact 268 Tory MPs voted for a watered down version of the House of Lords’ version of the bill.

Lineker tweeted: “As a politician how could you ever, under any circumstances, bring yourself to vote for pumping sewage into our seas? Unfathomable!”

4. Tory Russian donors

In February last year, Lineker shared an article about Liz Truss, then foreign secretary, urging Premier League teams to boycott the Champions League final in Russia, with the comment: “And her party will hand back their donations from Russian donors?”

The BBC later said it had upheld a reader complaint made about the Match Of The Day presenter’s tweet.

The BBC said it received a complaint over whether the comment was consistent with its impartiality rules, which it said as “one of the BBC’s highest profile stars” Lineker is expected to follow.

5. Playing the national anthem every night

He hit out at a Conservative MP who called for God Save The Queen to be once again played by the BBC every night following Her Majesty’s death.

Andrew Rosindell, who represents Romford, suggested a blast of the national anthem at the end of Beeb programming would bolster a “great sense of unity and pride in our nation” – an idea that was greeted with enthusiasm by government ministers.

Culture minister Chris Philp told MPs the “more we hear the national anthem sung, frankly, the better” and culture secretary Nadine Dorries could be heard saying “fantastic” after Rosindell finished his question.

But Lineker seemed unimpressed. “Yeah, let’s be less British and more North Korean,” he wrote on Twitter.

Downing Street has described Lineker’s criticism of new asylum policy as “not acceptable” and “disappointing”.

BBC director-general Tim Davie previously warned staff over their use of social media when he took on the role at the end of 2020, and guidelines around social media use have since been updated.

Lineker is a freelance broadcaster for the BBC, not a permanent member of staff, and is not responsible for news or political content so does not need to adhere to the same rules on impartiality.

Lineker, who last year was named as the BBC’s top earning on-air talent for the fifth consecutive year, was paid between £1,350,000 and £1,354,999 in 2021/2022 for Match Of The Day and Sports Personality Of The Year.


What's Hot