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England football legend, Lineker gets BBC red card as he’s yanked off air!

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Gary Lineker

Former England soccer captain Gary Lineker has been taken off air by the BBC after his comments on Britain’s migration policy sparked a furious row between the government and the corporation’s highest paid presenter.

Lineker was told there has to be an agreed position on his use of social media before he can return, the BBC said on Friday, with Director General Tim Davie saying it had taken a “proportionate action”.

The row overshadowed a migration deal struck between British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and French President Emmanuel Macron, with the BBC accused of bowing to political pressure.

“Gary Lineker off air is an assault on free speech in the face of political pressure,” the opposition Labour party said, calling for the BBC to re-think its decision.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon called the BBC’s move “indefensible”.

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The Department for Culture, Media and Sport said: “Individual cases are a matter for the BBC.”

NEW LAW

On Tuesday, Britain announced details of a new law which would see migrants arriving in small boats across the Channel prevented from claiming asylum and deported either back to their homeland or to so-called safe third countries.

It drew criticism from opposition parties, charities and the U.N.’s refugee agency for its impact on genuine refugees.

Lineker, who has previously hosted refugees in his home, retweeted a post featuring a video of interior minister Suella Braverman talking about the law, with the comment “Good heavens, this is beyond awful”.

Challenged by a respondent, he said: “This is just an immeasurably cruel policy directed at the most vulnerable people in language that is not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s, and I’m out of order?”

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Lineker faced a backlash to his comments, which were criticised by Sunak’s spokeswoman as “not acceptable”, but said he would “continue to try and speak up for those poor souls that have no voice”.

The BBC said after talks with Lineker and his team that it had decided he would step back from presenting its flagship Match of the Day (MOTD) soccer highlights programme “until we’ve got an agreed and clear position on his use of social media”.

The Bectu union, which represents thousands of BBC workers, said the corporation’s move was “deeply concerning”.

After four of the show’s regular pundits, former England players Ian Wright, Alan Shearer, Jermaine Jenas and Micah Richards said they did not wish to appear on the programme without Lineker, the BBC said Saturday’s edition would “focus on match action without studio presentation or punditry.”

MOTD commentator Steve Wilson later tweeted that the show’s commentators had also pulled out from Saturday’s broadcast, leaving BBC management reliant on World Feed commentary.

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BREACH OF GUIDELINES

Lineker has hosted MOTD for over 20 years and the charismatic 62-year-old has never been afraid to voice his opinions about political issues.

But the BBC said it considered his recent social media activity to be a breach of its guidelines.

“We have never said that Gary should be an opinion free zone, or that he can’t have a view on issues that matter to him, but we have said that he should keep well away from taking sides on party political issues or political controversies,” it added.

The BBC, funded by what is in effect a 159 pounds ($192)annual “license fee” tax on all television-watching households, has a central presence in British cultural life. It says it is committed to being politically impartial.

Lineker, who played for clubs including his home town Leicester City, Everton, Tottenham Hotspur and Barcelona, is the BBC’s highest paid personality, earning more than 1.3 million pounds in 2021/22. He is yet to comment on his suspension.

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Last year the BBC’s complaints unit ruled Lineker had failed to meet editorial standards on impartiality when he sent a tweet asking whether the governing Conservative Party would give back money from Russian donors.

BBC Chair Richard Sharp is under pressure for failing to declare his involvement in facilitating a loan for former Prime Minister Boris Johnson shortly before he was appointed to the role. His appointment, made on the recommendation of the government, is now being reviewed by Britain’s public appointments watchdog.

-Reuters

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Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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Governing Bodies

Tinubu backs Amaju’s FIFA Council re-election bid

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Former Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) president, Amaju Pinnick has secured the backing of Nigeria’s President,  Bola Tinubu in his bid to get another term in office as one of Africa’s representatives in FIFA Council.

The 37-member FIFA  Council is the main decision making body of the organisation in the intervals of FIFA Congress. 

Pinnick is the third Nigerian to ever sit in the FIFA Council after Oyo Orok Oyo (1980-1988) and Dr. Amos Adamu (2006-2010).

Pinnick was elected into the council on 12 March 2021. He is bidding for re-election in 2025 when the current term lapses.

According to a media release from the State House and signed by Chief Ajuri Ngelale, the Special Adviser to the President on Media & Publicity,

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President Bola Tinubu expresses strong support for Nigeria’s bid for re-election into the FIFA Council

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Governing Bodies

Save Our Soccer, African Sports Journalists plead with Motsepe

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BY KUNLE SOLAJA.

An SOS has been sent by the International Sports Press – Africa (AIPS -Africa) to the President of Confederation of African Football (CAF), Dr. Patrice Motsepe to save the soul of African soccer.

 The sports writers’ body has written an open letter to Motsepe on the need to do more to save African football.

The letter, written Monday in Dakar, is premised on the recurring scheduling problems that “have made CAF a victim of collateral damage from the “war” between UEFA and FIFA.”

Continuing in the letter signed by AIPS-Africa President, Abdoulaye Thiam, the sports writers’ body noted that UEFA contributed to overloading of the international calendar with the creation of the Nations League, which is played on FIFA dates

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Owing to the congested international calendar, football competitions in Africa have been major victims.

AIPS wrote: …”the stuttering and uncertainties surrounding the programming of the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) leave many wondering about the future of our continent’s most prestigious competition, which is struggling to find a place in the international calendar.

“Added to this, the external influences and the overload of the international calendar, modelled on the European interests, increases the scepticism surrounding the survival of CAF’s most lucrative and economically viable tournament.

“As a result, therefore, it is rare, if not impossible, for an African team to find a European team to spar with, except when they share the same group in a World Cup draw every four years.     

“As for FIFA, in addition to the Arab World Cup, it has also created the Club World Cup. Worse still, it decided to stage the latter competition from June 15 to July 13, 2025, a period initially chosen by Morocco to host the AFCON 2025. In fact, Cairo’s dependence on Zurich enabled FIFA’s latest competition to happily shake up the 67-year-old African Cup of Nations.”

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Also affected by the global football calendar are the scheduling of the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations and African Women’s Champions League.

The journalists recalled that the changing of AFCON tournaments from the even-ending years to the odd  was to avert situations of clashing with World Cup years and to avert exhaustion on players.

The situation is such that scheduling of tournaments in Africa is now determined by compromise reached with UEFA and FIFA.

AIPS averred that “it is important to deconstruct the image of Africa as a prominent stakeholder in the global game with huge voice of 54 member associations and votes being presented as an electoral cattle-tank, to be adequately given their fair share during debates and dialogues with FIFA, by offering constructive solutions with a view to accelerating a reform of the international calendar.

“It is therefore expected from CAF leaders to ensure respect for African Football which is full of great administrators and players alike…Mr. President (Motsepe), you claim to be a disciple of Nelson Mandela and a well respectable man. A man of principles. So do kindly refuse and remain our inspiration than anything else.”  

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Governing Bodies

Breaking! CAF’s axe falls on Eto’o

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Confederation of African Football (CAF) has imposed a fine of $200 thousand on Samuel Eto’o Fils, a former international footballer and President of Fédération Camerounaise de Football (‘’FECAFOOT’’).

  The fine is imposed on the FECAFOOT president for violating the principles of ethics, integrity and sportsmanship as provided in Article 2  paragraph 3 of the CAF Statutes.

He is found to have violated the said article by signing a Brand Ambassador contract with the company 1XBET in exchange for remuneration.

 He however escape sanction in a bigger allegation of match fixing and manipulation.

Eto’o faced charges of alleged manipulation of football matches and violating the principles of ethics and integrity.

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The Disciplinary Board ruled that there was insufficient proof to find him and Valentin Nkwain guilty of match manipulation.

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