Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has issued a statement on the ongoing Match of the Day debacle between Gary Lineker and the BBC.
It follows Friday's (10 March) news that Lineker would be taking a break from the football highlights show until there was 'an agreed and clear position on his use of social media,' after he condemned the government's Illegal Migration Bill.
Mr Sunak's statement reads: "As Prime Minister, I have to do what I believe is right, respecting that not everyone will always agree. That is why I have been unequivocal in my approach to stopping the boats.
"Gary Lineker was a great footballer and is a talented presenter. I hope that the current situation between Gary Lineker and the BBC can be resolved in a timely manner, but it is rightly a matter for them, not the government.
"While that process is ongoing, it is important that we maintain perspective, particularly given the seriousness of the issue at hand.
"Forty-five thousand people crossed the channel illegally in the past two years, many of whom have been exploited or trafficked by criminal gangs, putting their lives in danger.
“We need to break this cycle of misery once and for all and the policy we set out this week I believe aims to do just that. It is not only the fair and moral thing to do, it is also the compassionate thing to do.
“There are no easy answers to solving this problem, but I believe leadership is about taking the tough decisions to fix problems. I know not everyone will always agree, but I do believe this is fair and right.”
The Illegal Migration Bill would ban migrants who arrived in small boats from settling in Britain.
Lineker's tweet about the bill had read: "This is just an immeasurably cruel policy directed at the most vulnerable people in language that is not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the '30s, and I'm out of order?"
A subsequent statement from the BBC announced that the tweet had been 'a breach of [their] guidelines.'
It read: "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.”
The BBC's decision has been heavily criticised by football fans, players, and pundits.
Not long after the BBC's statement, both Ian Wright and Alan Shearer agreed that they wouldn't appear on Match of the Day either, in solidarity with Lineker.
Other stars like Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Osman, and Fatboy Slim have also spoken out in solidarity with Lineker.
Meanwhile, Alex Scott has announced that she'll be standing down from Football Focus this weekend, and Jason Mohammad confirmed he'd withdrawn from Final Score, in solidarity with Lineker.
Both shows have already been replaced on the BBC TV schedule.
The BBC has since confirmed that it could only air 'limited sports programming' as it works 'to resolve the situation'.
Featured Image Credit: BBC/Imageplotter / Alamy Stock Photo
Topics: Rishi Sunak, Gary Lineker, Football, BBC, Sport
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