Gary Lineker has stepped back from his presenting role on BBC’s Match of the Day following the row around his Tweet apparently comparing the government’s plan to tackle illegal migration to Nazi Germany.
On Tuesday, Lineker wrote on Twitter about a video in which home secretary Suella Braverman unveiled plans to stop migrants crossing the Channel on small boats and said the UK is being “overwhelmed”.
The ex-England striker wrote: “There is no huge influx. We take far fewer refugees than other major European countries. 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.”
Some MPs described the comments as ill-judged - but the Match of the Day presenter hit back at his critics, accusing some “free speech champions” of “demanding silence from those with whom they disagree”.
And in a follow-up tweet on Wednesday morning, he vowed to continue speaking up for the “voiceless”. A statment from the BBC says that Lineker not be returning to his long-time presenting role “until we’ve got an agreed and clear position on his use of social media.”
This was not the first time Mr Lineker has been vocal on Twitter about his political views - and history suggests it might not be the last.
Here we take a look at some of the most notable moments through the years:
A staunch opponent of Brexit, Mr Lineker voiced support for a second referendum in 2018, and has also often tweeted about refugees and immigration policy.
In 2018, he was criticised by BBC colleague Jonathan Agnew, a mainstay of the broadcaster’s cricket coverage, after he posted a string of tweets about Brexit and the Tory party.
One tweet from Mr Lineker read: “Imagine how hopeless you’d have to be to still be behind the Tory party in the polls. The absolute state of our politics.”
Mr Agnew wrote: "Gary. You are the face of BBC Sport. Please observe BBC editorial guidelines and keep your political views, whatever they are and whatever the subject, to yourself.
"I’d be sacked if I followed your example. Thanks."
In response, Mr Lineker wrote: “I’m the face of my own Twitter account. I’ll continue to tweet what I like and if folk disagree with me then so be it.”
In October 2020, Mr Lineker said he had spoken to the BBC’s director-general Tim Davie "quite a few times in recent weeks" and that Mr Davie was "perfectly happy" with his conduct on social media.
His comments came after new guidelines and training were announced by the BBC to "ensure the highest possible standards of impartiality" among staff at the broadcaster.
In August 2022, senior BBC journalist Neil Henderson questioned whether Mr Lineker had a contract allowing him to breach BBC impartiality after he tweeted about sewage being pumped into the sea.
Mr Lineker had written: "As a politician how could you ever, under any circumstances, bring yourself to vote for pumping sewage into our seas? Unfathomable!"
Mr Henderson later deleted his tweet and apologised.
In October 2022, the BBC found Mr Lineker had breached its impartiality rules over a comment he made about the Conservative Party having "Russian donors".
The investigation stemmed from a reader complaint made about the presenter’s tweet from earlier that year.
Mr Lineker had shared an article about Liz Truss, then foreign secretary, urging Premier League teams to boycott the Champions League final in Russia, with the comment: "And her party will hand back their donations from Russian donors?"
The BBC’s Executive Complaints Unit (ECU) judged the post was intended to highlight a "perceived inconsistency in the Conservative Party’s approach, at a time when relations between the UK and Russia were the subject of significant public debate".
Later that month, Mr Lineker criticised foreign secretary James Cleverly after he suggested LGBT football fans attending the World Cup in Qatar should be "respectful of the host nation".
Mr Cleverly had urged fans to show "a little bit of flex and compromise" and to "respect the culture" of the host nation, where homosexuality remains a crime, prompting criticism from campaigners including Peter Tatchell.
Responding to his comments on Twitter, Mr Lineker said: "Whatever you do, don’t do anything Gay. Is that the message?"
In January 2023, then-culture secretary Michelle Donelan said the BBC should be "conscious" of recent comments made by Mr Lineker.
Ms Donelan was speaking to The News Agents podcast about remarks Mr Lineker had made on the same show about the World Cup in Qatar and racism in America.
"There is a problem with impartiality and the BBC, they would say that they’ve recognised that themselves," she said.
Representatives of Mr Lineker were contacted for comment.
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