Gary Lineker, as Wikipedia is in charge of remembering, is one of the few soccer players who never received a yellow card. At least in the field. In his later life as a television presenter, he has already been presented with several. The management of the BBC has once again promised that he will call the host of the popular sports program to order game of the day (The Party of the Day), after Lineker managed to unleash the ire of Conservative MPs with his comment on Twitter about the new immigration bill from the Rishi Sunak government. “By God, this is something more than horrible”, he had limited himself to writing in a retweet to the video published by the Ministry of the Interior, in which the headline, Suella Braverman, repeated the message that the Downing Street terminals launched these days to sell the benefits of a legal text called the Illegal Immigration Law (the British Executive prefers to define those who arrive by boat on English shores as “illegal immigrants”, instead of “irregulars” as recommended by the UN): “ If you come here illegally, you won’t be able to stay. You will be detained and deported to your country of origin, if it is safe, or to a safe third country like Rwanda,” Braverman promises. Stop. We must put a stop to the arrival of boats, ”she proclaims.
Accustomed to fighting on Twitter, Lineker expanded on his complaint after some users questioned the irritation he had expressed: “It is not true that the number of arrivals is huge [en 2022, fueron interceptados 46.000 inmigrantes en el canal de la Mancha]. We host far fewer refugees than most European countries. This [el nuevo proyecto de ley] it is simply an incredibly cruel political measure that targets the most vulnerable people, in language not much different from what was used in Germany in the 1930s. And am I the one who got out of tune? ”, The former player has defended himself.
A wave of MPs and Conservative columnists have launched against his comments, many of them reverting to the traditional arguments against the British and international football legend: they recall his multimillion-dollar heritage, accuse him of belonging to a “caviar left” (champagne job, in British slang, or champagne Labor), and they recommend him, with a tone that is objectively as condescending as the one they denounce Lineker for, “that he stick to talking about football”. “Another example of how far removed these overcharged stars are from the public. Instead of lecturing Mr Lineker should just read match results and promote chips,” Lee Anderson, vice-chairman of the Conservative Party, wrote on Facebook. Lineker’s promotional contract with the Walker snack brand was used by a political and media right wing that had wanted him for a long time to accuse him of promoting eating habits that favored obesity.
Minister Braverman herself has joined the criticism, calling Lineker’s comparison to Nazi Germany “inappropriate” and “disappointing”. “I think we are on the side of the people. It can clearly be seen by everyone that the British have had enough of a situation where thousands of people come here illegally, at enormous cost to the taxpayer and undermining our laws and British generosity. We have to put a stop to this ”, Braverman told the BBC.
The British public corporation has very strict behavior guidelines regarding the use that its journalists can make of social networks, but the case of Lineker, a collaborator who does not work in the newsroom, is more difficult to manage. “He has already spoken to Gary on several occasions, and has written thousands of tweets. It is a constant conversation, in which we try to define where the limit is, and I think he has understood these are our recommendations”, Tim Davie recently explained to the parliamentary committee on Culture and Digital Affairs. The BBC has promised to return to give a touch of attention to the ex-footballer.
The top scorer at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, and one of the best forwards in the world during his active years, Lineker defined the huffington post his political position as rather moderate: “I run more to the left wing than to the right, but I have never felt comfortable in the extremes,” he said. When in the 1988/89 season, the FC Barcelona coach, Johan Cruyff, used the English footballer as a left winger and his goalscoring mark was strong.
Very active in the battle against Brexit —it was from that moment on that he earned the enmity of relevant conservative politicians—, he did not mince words when it came to criticizing the then leader of the Labor Party, Jeremy Corbyn, for his ambiguity and double play when it comes to defending the permanence of the United Kingdom in the EU.
Lineker is not alone in his criticism of an immigration policy by conservative governments that has been attacked by numerous non-governmental organizations, the Church of England and even King Charles III, when he was still Prince of Wales. “Never in my life have I received as much support and love as I am receiving this morning (apart from when I scored the goals for England in the World Cup, possibly),” the former player wrote on Twitter on Wednesday. “I want to thank each one of you. Your support means a lot. I will keep trying to speak for those poor souls who don’t have a voice. Thank you all”.
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