Gary Lineker, off-field consultant

In sixteen years of career and more than 400 games on the clock, Gary Lineker has never experienced expulsion. Not even a single yellow card. The embodiment of fair play on the green rectangle, England’s gentleman goalscorer of the eighties has always been a model of righteousness, respect, and class. It will therefore have been necessary to wait for his 62 years and a tweet of 47 words to see this old lion excluded. A sanction that fell last weekend, after Lineker tweeted about the British government’s anti-immigration policy, which read: “It’s just an immeasurably cruel policy directed at the most vulnerable people in language no different from that used by Germany in the 1930s.”

Admittedly, we have seen finer tackles. But after all, if the one who has the middle name Winston (in homage to Churchill) has established himself in the British media landscape for three decades, it is thanks to his sense of the formula. The same who had given birth, one evening in 1990, to the most famous adage in the world of football, this simple sport where, in the end, it is Germany who wins. A punch line become a worn-out cliché, but which foreshadowed the reconversion of the one who, since 1999 and his takeover of Game of the Day, has become the main media figure in the king of sport across the Channel. Host of the flagship public service football program, the BBC, top scorer in the 1986 World Cup, third best scorer in the Three Lions with 48 pawns, has become more than a sports consultant. So much so that he can now tackle something other than football, to the point of shaking the government. His recent outing on anti-immigration policy was far from being the first.

working class hero

Pinned by Paradise Papers in November 2017, for having bought a vacation home in Barbados via an offshore company, Gary Lineker is one of the retirees who knew how to make their name bear fruit after hanging up their crampons. He is nonetheless a man close to the people, he who should have been a vegetable merchant like his father, his grandfather, and his great-grandfather before him. But if he snagged a few customers at the Leicester market as a child, the young Gary made his fortune thanks to the swelling, without taking the melon for all that. To the point of being always adored in the city of Jamie Vardy. Present at the King Power Stadium on Saturday during Leicester-Chelsea, Lineker was also able to see that this popularity rating was intact, with several signs brandished to support him. “He’s our guy!” He stands up for people who are not given a voice! »summed up a supporter of the foxes At Guardian.

In a city where he experienced racism because of his dark eyes and features, Gary Lineker leaves the image of the guy who does not forget where he comes from. No one is surprised to see him publicly criticize the Conservative government’s latest anti-immigration law. His tweet, which went viral, greatly exceeded his community of 9 million subscribers, and provoked the ire of Downing Street and the conservative tabloids. However, a quick mouse click on the scene of the crime, his Twitter account, testifies to the political commitment of the BBC consultant. Amid an interview with Bernie Sanders, pro-revolution tweets in Iran, multiple referrals to a political podcast, support for charity events, and investigative sharing on deforestation in the Amazon, there is a tweet dated February 28, in which the ex-scorer pays (already) the Prime Minister.

This kind of outing, Gary Lineker has been fond of it since he made the social network his playground. In 2016, after positioning himself against Brexit, he was thus described by a vice article as “the loudest voice of the British left who is both staunchly liberal and staunchly unafraid to make his views known ». A positioning confirmed by the person concerned himself, in 2017, on Twitter, of course: “I do more runs to the left than to the right, but I’ve never felt comfortable on the wing”some time after having regretted a British political prism too right, or too left, declaring itself “political homeless”.

Lineker, the repeat offender

His recent outing was far from being the first on the subject of immigration. On October 18, 2016, he was already offended by an outing by MP David Davis, suggesting dental tests to verify the age of refugees: “The treatment of some of these young refugees is horribly racist and utterly heartless. What is happening in our country? » THE Sun had then requested his dismissal from the BBC (already), for having breached the rules of impartiality, following which he was exempted from this regulation as a freelance presenter. One of the many episodes that saw the former Barcelonan under fire from political criticism after a tweet deemed inappropriate.

A scenario that repeated itself again at the beginning of March 2023, after a new analogy with Germany signed Lineker, less inspired than that of 1990. Which this time cost the compulsive tweeters their presence at the Game of the Day of the weekend. Supported by his stage buddies (Ian Wright, Alan Shearer, Micah Richards…), he was reinstated on Monday after taking the blows from the conservative camp. And received innumerable supports, in particular in the columns of the Guardian. “Lineker’s political tweets are mostly in line with the wind, it’s good to take care of the environment, it’s cruel to detain and deport people seeking asylum. Frankly, the VAR arguments are more controversial,” writes columnist Hannah Jane Parkinson in the March 12 edition, before adding: “Lineker is also one of the most well-known and likeable personalities we have. He has a sense of the formula for which politicians would kill. And that, of course, is why Lineker shares his opinions. »

But can you say what you want when you work for the public service, including on a subject that does not fall within our expertise? On the contrary, can we reproach a citizen for using his freedom of expression while ignoring his notoriety? This is the whole debate that agitated Westminster last weekend. And Twitter. A media-digital battle in which Gary Lineker emerges victorious. Without him, the cult show Game of the Day was transformed into twenty minutes of images without journalists or consultants on set, for the first time in its history. And, from Monday, the former Tottenham striker was called back to the helm, without having deleted his tweet which succeeded in its mission: to talk about the substantive subject. Waiting for the next one.

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Tarun Kumar

Tarun Kumar has worked in the News sector for 05 years and is currently the Owner and Editor of Then24. He reside in Delhi, India with his Family.

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