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Gary Lineker accused of downplaying Jamie Vardy's alleged racial abuse

The Match of the Day presenter also claimed that footballers are ‘generally really not racist at all’

Mark Critchley
Wednesday 13 April 2016 09:20 BST
Lineker's remarks have attracted censure on social media
Lineker's remarks have attracted censure on social media (Getty)

Gary Lineker has been accused of downplaying Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy’s alleged racial abuse of an Asian man by claiming that "people make mistakes".

The former England international and Match of the Day presenter, who began his playing career at Leicester and is one of the club’s most well-known supporters, also said that footballers are "generally really not racist at all".

Vardy was caught on camera in a casino last year appearing to call one of his fellow patrons, who he believed to be looking at his cards, a ‘Jap’ before aggressively telling the man in question to “walk on”.

The 29-year-old striker, one of the stand-out performers in Leicester’s remarkable rise to the summit of the Premier League, has since apologised for his actions, having been fined by his club and prescribed a programme of diversity awareness training.

“People make mistakes. They say stupid things. He did it and he apologised,” Lineker said of the incident in an interview with The Guardian.

When asked whether the use of racist epithet could be played down as a mistake, he said: “I think it depends on how you say it, and where you say it. But I know footballers, and they are generally really not racist at all.

“I’ve heard things said on football pitches that players clearly don’t mean, whether it’s racism or just an abusive comment in the heat of the moment.”

“Fundamentally, footballers don’t look around a dressing room and think: ‘He’s a black player... he’s Japanese.’ They don’t think like that. They think: ‘He’s a good player, he can help, he’s not very good.’

“I’m not trying to defend anyone’s actions but there are going to be isolated incidents because it’s an emotive, passionate sport,” he added.

Lineker's remarks have attracted censure from some quarters on social media, with some users describing his interpretation of the incident as "flippant" and "unconvincing".

The former Everton, Barcelona and Tottenham Hotspur striker has subsequently distanced himself from the interview.

"This was a random and bizarre interview with someone trying to make a name for himself. Not balanced," he claimed in an exchange on Twitter.

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