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Mutiny at the BBC: Lineker row causes mounting crisis



Former player and TV presenter Gary Lineker is pictured in the stand with his son. Leicester City v Chelsea, March 11, 2023. REUTERS/Toby Melvill

Britain’s BBC faced a mounting crisis as a row over football presenter Gary Lineker’s criticism of government migration policy led to a presenter mutiny, drew a comment from the prime minister and left the broadcaster’s boss defending his position.

The BBC was forced to axe much of its sports coverage on Saturday as presenters refused to work in a show of solidarity with Lineker, after the BBC sought to defend its impartiality by taking him off the air due to his comments on social media.

Lineker, a former England soccer captain, the BBC’s highest-paid presenter and the anchor of the football highlights programme “Match of the Day”, was suspended from his role following his criticism of Britain’s migration policy.

Critics of Lineker’s suspension say the BBC bowed to government pressure, leading to a furious debate about the impartiality of the national broadcaster.

BBC Director General Tim Davie told the BBC on Saturday he had no intention of resigning over the matter. “We in the BBC, and myself, are absolutely driven by a passion for impartiality, not left, right or pandering to a particular party,” he said.


Davie said he wanted Lineker back on the air and hoped to find a balance which enabled some presenters to express opinions while at the same time maintaining the BBC’s neutrality.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak issued a statement on Saturday defending the migration policy, which bars the entry of asylum seekers arriving in small boats across the English Channel, saying he hoped Lineker and the BBC could resolve their differences in a timely manner.

“It is rightly a matter for them, not the government,” Sunak said.

The Lineker row severely disrupted the BBC’s sports programming on Saturday as multiple presenters walked out, prompting it to issue an apology.

Saturday’s edition of “Match of the Day”, presented by Lineker for more than 20 years, aired at the usual time despite his absence, but was slashed to just 20 minutes and aired as a show of highlights without commentary.



The BBC is committed to being politically impartial, but has faced criticism from the Conservative and Labour parties about how neutral it actually is, particularly in the era of social media when high-profile presenters can easily make their personal positions known.

The opposition Labour Party and media commentators accuse the BBC of silencing Lineker, after Sunak’s spokeswoman called Lineker’s comments “unacceptable” and interior minister Suella Braverman said they were “offensive”.

“The BBC is not acting impartially by caving in to Tory MPs who are complaining about Gary Lineker,” Labour leader Keir Starmer told reporters at a conference in Wales on Saturday.

Lineker declined to comment to media as he left his London home on Saturday and did not reply to questions from reporters on arrival at the King Power Stadium in Leicester where he went to watch one of his former clubs play.

The furore followed Sunak’s announcement of the new law earlier in the week. Lineker, 62, took to Twitter to describe the legislation as a “cruel policy directed at the most vulnerable people in language that is not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s.”


Seeking to resolve the dispute, the BBC said there needed to be an agreed position on Lineker’s use of social media before he can return to presenting. But critics of Lineker’s suspension say he is entitled to his personal opinions because he is not a news presenter.

Greg Dyke, who was director-general of the BBC between 2000 and 2004, told BBC radio earlier on Saturday that the BBC had made a mistake.

“The perception out there is going to be that Gary Lineker, a much-loved television presenter, was taken off air after government pressure on a particular issue,” Dyke said.

That could turn viewers away from the 100-year-old BBC, which is funded by a 159 pound ($192) annual “licence fee” tax on all television-watching households.

While the broadcaster remains a central presence in British cultural life, it is battling to stay relevant with younger audiences and faces threats to its funding as some Conservative lawmakers want to scrap the licence fee.


Questions about BBC Chair Richard Sharp pose a further challenge for the broadcaster.

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



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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Benin sports followers lament blackout of international sporting events 



Sinatou Saka and Jean-Marc Adjovi Bocco, the duo can advice government to amortize the cost of television rights to relieve the citizens and Beninese generally.

Watching international sports events, including those of the national teams, has become a huge luxury, if not totally impossible in Benin Republic.

The blames are often put on government advisers who probably have not realised the importance of sports in the society.  

Fingers point at two personalities –  Sinatou Saka and Jean-Marc Adjovi Bocco. Saka was last year  appointed representative of the Beninese state on the board of directors of the joint audiovisual company. She is a journalist specializing in digital entrepreneurship.  

Bocco, a former professional footballer who played in the defence line of Benin national team is the technical adviser to the minister of sports.

Both were expected to use their good offices to advise government on issues of broadcast rights such that citizens could have access to international sports events, especially football.


 They seem to have the views that watching international sports should remain a luxury owing to high cost of buying broadcast rights. The context in France seems to be the yardstick being employed while in the Beninese environment, sponsorship and advertisement is still very weak.

And even when the rights sellers revise the figures downwards, Sinatou Saka is believed to have turned down the offers. Peoples’ passion for sports is often overlooked. Bocco, too despite being a sports personality has not offered any assistance thus depriving millions of Beninese people of these rare moments of happiness around national teams and their athletes.

It is expected that the duo would advise the government to amortize the cost of television rights to relieve the citizens and Beninese generally.

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Edo State Governor, Top Dignitaries Storm Lagos For Sportsville Award –



Edo State Governor, Top Dignitaries Storm Lagos For Sportsville Award -

The creme de la creme of sports personalities will gather in Lagos this evening for the 4th edition of Sportsville Special Recognition Award ceremony.

Topping the list of the dignitaries is the Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki whose state is receiving award for the Best Sports Facilities Category, immediate past Sports Minister, Chief Sunday Dare, who is the Special Guest of Honour and ace TV anchor, Oseni Rufai of Arise Television.

The list also includes the Chairman/CEO of BRILA FM, Dr Larry Izamoje, Chairman, House Committee on Sports, Lagos State House of Assembly, Abiodun Orekoya, the Secretary General of the Nigeria Olympic Committee, Tunde Popoola, among others.

The organisers are excited that former Green Eagles Skipper and founder of Eagle 7 Sports Radio,  Segun Odegbami, has accepted to Chair the occasion.

“We’re really excited that top personalities like Dr Odegbami will be chairing the occasion. It tells you the credibility and quality of the award which is only in its 4th year,” Frank Ilaboya, the Chief Executive Officer of Sportsville, the organisers of the award said.


The quality of  awardees in the different categories is another area Mr Ilaboya is fascinated with.

In the Sports Icon Category, we have the likes of former Governor of Abia State, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu, Chief Solomon Ogba, Rtn Victor Ochei and Otunba Segun Runsewe, OON.


The Sports Administrator of the Year has the NPFL Board Chairman, the quiet and soft speaking Gbenga Elegbeleye.



Dr Uyi Akpata, the President of the Nigeria Cricket Federation, leads the likes of Sam Ocheho and Francis Orbih of Handball and Badminton respectively, Hajiya Zainab Saleh, Hauwa-Kulu Akinyemi and Women football pioneer, Elder Eddington Kuejubola .


The list also includes the Chairman, Anambra State Football Association, Chikelue Ileononysi.


The rave of the moment in sports radio broadcast goes to BRILA FM, while Kunle Solaja is named as Nigeria’s highly rated diarist!



The newly-introduced creative category goes to Jenkins Alumona, the Chief Executive Officer of Flykite Promotions, just as ex-Olympian Daniel Igali wins in the Integrity Category

The Media Officer of the Year goes to Oladimeji Oshode of Remo Stars Football Club.


In the sports facilities category, Edo State came tops while Remo Sports Facilities Complex made the cut in the private sector category.



Mark Igoche clinches the Achieve Award. “My special regards  and appreciation go to the Organising Committee led by the ebullient Adekunle Salami, the Deputy Editor and Group Sports Editor of the New Telegraph, for doing a good job, Mr Ilaboya picks up the story again

“I know how daunting it is to sieve few names among the tons of qualified personalities.”

Several arrays of top entertainers have been lined up for the ceremony billed for the prestigious Eko Club in Surulere, Lagos State.



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Nigeria’s Former Sports Minister, Dare Storms SV AWARDS With Powerful Team. –




The list of those coming for this  Friday’s Sportsville Special Recognition Award is growing by the day.

The latest confirmation came last night from the immediate past Sports Minister, Hon Sunday Dare.

Chief Dare, who was honoured  yesterday in Abuja by Frontier Television with Service Award, confirmed his attendance when he spoke with Adekunle Salami, the Chairman of the Organising Committee.

“Count me in to grace the occasion. I will not only attend, but  I will be coming with a powerful delegation,” promises the man whose imprints as Sports Minister has continued to resonate in the sports circle.

Dare’s conformation has increased the number of guests expected at the event. As at this morning, over 100 guests have confirmed their seats for the award billed for the Blessing Hall of EKO CLUB, Surulere.


Meanwhile, one of the nominees, Mrs Hauwa Kulu-Akinyemi, says she was surprised to be nominated among the awardees. “It came as a pleasant surprise, and I kept wondering what I have done to deserve this honour.

“I am humbled by this and I want to thank the organisers for picking me among the top women administrators in Nigeria.

“This will definitely push me to do more in the years ahead,” the soft spoken administrator added

This year’s edition is the 4th in the series with over 20 people listed for honour. The date is Friday, March 1st, 2024


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