Former England captain Gary Lineker will not present a football highlights show on the BBC until an agreement is reached on his social media use, the network said on Saturday.
Lineker criticised the British government’s new asylum policy in a Twitter post, comparing lawmakers’ language about migrants to that used in Nazi Germany.
The BBC considers Lineker posting such views on social media as a breach of its guidelines and has been in discussions with him over his involvement in the “Match of the Day” program that is broadcast on Saturday nights and shows highlights of English Premier League games that day.
Lineker will not present Match of the Day, the BBC said, “until we’ve got an agreed and clear position on his use of social media.”
Lineker has yet to make an official comment.
Ian Wright, a former Arsenal and England player who works as a pundit on Match of the Day, said on Twitter he would also not be appearing on the program this weekend out of “solidarity” with Lineker.
Hours later, fellow pundit Alan Shearer joined Wright in opting out of the weekend’s broadcast, writing on Twitter: “I have informed the BBC that I won’t be appearing on MOTD tomorrow night.”
Shearer was then joined by Alex Scott in ruling themselves out of stepping in to host the show.
Instead, the BBC announced later on Saturday that this weekend’s show would air without any studio presenters.
“Saturday’s Match of the Day will not have studio presenters or pundits after contributors pull out in solidarity with Gary Lineker,” the BBC’s Breaking News account on Twitter posted.
Conservative lawmakers in Britain are calling on the BBC to discipline Lineker, the network’s highest-paid star, for saying the government’s plan to detain and deport migrants arriving by boat is “an immeasurably cruel policy directed at the most vulnerable people in language that is not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s.”
The government has called Lineker’s Nazi comparison inappropriate and unacceptable, and some lawmakers said he should be fired.
The 62-year-old Lineker is a household name in Britain and one of the UK’s most influential media figures, with 8.7 million followers on Twitter. He was the leading scorer at the 1986 World Cup and finished his international career with 48 goals in 80 matches for England.