Gary Lineker has responded to criticism from sports TV veteran Des Lynam, who suggested that the former Leicester legend should stop discussing politics. Des’s comments came in the aftermath of a high-profile impartiality controversy that led to Gary being taken off screens earlier this year.
The ex-Foxes forward, not one to remain silent, spoke out after Des, who was the previous presenter of Match of the Day before Gary, implied that there were certain topics Gary “should stay out of.” Des expressed his views on BBC Radio 4’s Broadcasting House programme, stating, “I like [Gary] as a chap, I like him as a broadcaster. But I think there are some areas that he should stay out of. For example, during the last World Cup in Qatar, he strongly criticised the limitations of society in Qatar. He’s right about them, but he might not be the right person to make such statements. Let him focus on football.”
Criticism of Gary’s views is not new, as many politicians believe that, due to his association with the BBC, he should avoid making political statements. Earlier this year, Gary faced heightened criticism when he strongly condemned Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s plans to handle illegal Channel crossings, describing them as “beyond awful.” His comparison of her language to that of 1930s Germany ignited a debate about his and the BBC’s impartiality. The controversy led to his temporary removal from screens, and BBC Sports stars went on strike in solidarity before he eventually returned to the network.
This isn’t the first instance of Gary stirring controversy with his opinions. He has previously expressed support for a liberal approach to border controls and backed a second EU referendum.
In response to Des’s remarks, Gary released a brief statement that quickly spread online. He asserted, “Des is entitled to his opinion, as am I, of course.”
Those defending Gary pointed out that Des’s criticism might not hold much weight, given that Des had openly supported UKIP in the past. Comedian and Good Morning Britain host Adil Ray was among those who referenced this, saying, “Love Des Lynam, but I just heard a clip on Radio 4 this morning suggesting Gary Lineker should stick to football. In 2013, Lynam, still an influential figure, publicly came out as a supporter of Farage and UKIP.”
Recently, Gary has been seen hosting the second series of his ITV quiz show, Sitting on a Fortune. He is set to return to the Match of the Day studio at the beginning of the new Premier League season next month.