BBC pundit Gary Lineker has spoken out after a backlash to one of his tweets (Picture: Darren Staples/AFP via Getty Images)
Match Of The Day host Gary Lineker has said he received threats after he retweeted and later deleted a post on social media that called for Israel to be banned from international sporting events, including football.
The post on X, formerly Twitter, by the Palestinian Campaign For The Academic And Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), which he reportedly misread, appealed to the International Olympic Committee, Fifa and all regional and international sports governing bodies to take ‘an urgent stance’.
Following the backlash since the tweet, including from a former BBC star who said Lineker’s fingers should be ‘chopped off’, the pundit confirmed he had ‘received threats’ and said: ‘It’s not about me. I am not the victim here.’
The former England footballer, who was temporarily taken off air by the BBC after being caught up in an impartiality row in March, spoke about the Israel-Hamas conflict and described social media postings on the war as ‘toxic’.
‘Everybody I talk to, every single person I know, is going, “What? What is happening?”. But the minute you open your mouth – well, not my mouth, but the minute I tweet a little bit – it’s so toxic.
‘If you lean to one side or the other, the levels of attack are extraordinary. How could it be controversial to want peace? I just don’t understand it,’ he told The Guardian.
Lineker reportedly ‘misread’ the post which he retweeted, calling for a ban on Israel in all international sports competitions (Picture: Mike Marsland/WireImage)
‘You don’t need to be Islamophobic to condemn Hamas, or antisemitic to condemn Israel. But at the moment it’s just awful. Awful,’ he added.
He also said he has tried to limit his time spent on social media sites.
Follow Metro on WhatsApp to be the first to get all the latest news
Want to be the first to hear the world’s top stories? Metro.co.uk is now on WhatsApp sending vital updates and top trending stories straight to your phone.
Follow us to receive the latest news updates from Metro (Picture: Getty Images)
Join the Metro WhatsApp community now for breaking news, juicy showbiz stories and must-watch videos from across our website.
Simply click on this link and select ‘Join Chat’. Don’t forget to turn on notifications so you’ll always be the first to hear the latest!
The retired athlete, who is the BBC’s highest-paid presenter, said that before he would kill time by ‘trawling through social media, getting irritated and depressed by world news’.
Now though, he has replaced hours of scrolling with reading ‘a lot’.
He also added that he found it ‘difficult’ to look at social media ‘because I can’t bear looking at little children being killed constantly’.
The star called social media ‘toxic’ as he said he’d received ‘threats’ (Picture: The FA/Getty)
Lineker was reinstated in his role on the BBC One sporting show in March 2023 after he had been told to stand down following a tweet where he compared language used to launch a new Government asylum seeker policy with 1930s Germany.
He told The Guardian he was deliberate with the phrasing of the tweet and said: ‘I worded it very carefully, I always do. Anything that is slightly borderline political, I put a lot of thought into.’
It comes after Gary became the subject of a second BBC impartiality row over comments he made about Grant Shapps after he signed a letter calling for the Government’s Rwanda policy to end.
Shapps later responded to Gary’s call to find ‘fair new plan for refugees by stating that he should not be expressing such viewers as a prominent BBC presenter.
He was caught up in more than one impartiality row last year (Picture: Peter MacDiarmid/Rex/Shutterstock)
Gary retaliated by tweeting a photograph of Shapps with his name under it alongside three more images of the politician with the names Michael Green, Corinne Stockheath and Sebastian Fox used instead.
Gary wrote: ‘A tad rich coming from someone who can’t even stick to one name. 4 chaps Shapps.’
Shapps was previously accused of breaching the code of conduct for ministers and MPs by continuing to work as a marketer of get-rich-quick schemes under the pseudonym Michael Green after entering parliament.
He has also been accused of using the pseudonyms Sebastian Fox and Corinne Stockheath.
On Monday, ex-BBC presenter John Mair appeared on TalkTV and told host Julia Hartley-Brewer of Lineker’s retweet calling for the ban: ‘If I was Gary’s agent, I would chop off his Twitter fingers because he really is getting a bit beyond the pale now.’
‘So just chop off his fingers and say, “Look, Gary, put a plaster around those fingers so you can’t tweet because it is getting silly. Concentrate on football, Gary”,‘ he fumed.
Got a story?
If you’ve got a celebrity story, video or pictures get in touch with the Metro.co.uk entertainment team by emailing us email@example.com, calling 020 3615 2145 or by visiting our Submit Stuff page – we’d love to hear from you.
Entertainment – MetroRead More