Gary Lineker in fresh row after reposting call to ban Israel from football

Gary Lineker finds himself in hot water once again over a controversial tweet in which he appeared to back calls for Israel to be banned from international football due to the war in Gaza.

The Match of the Day presenter was criticised by MPs and the Jewish community for retweeting a post by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel (BDS) on Saturday.

The post included a statement from the Palestinian Football Association, which called for Israel to be banned from international sporting bodies over its “genocidal attacks on Palestinian life”.

The Campaign Against Antisemitism accused Mr Lineker, 63, of failing to speak out against antisemitism while supporting Palestinians.

“Gary Lineker has a lot to say about a lot of things, but antisemitism does not appear to be one of them,” a spokesman for the group told The Daily Telegraph.

“At a time of record levels of racism against Jews, not a peep. But he has found the time to amplify a call to suspend the world’s only Jewish state from international sports. His priorities are clear.”

Andrew Percy, a prominent Jewish Tory MP, was among several Conservatives to criticise the former England footballer international.

“Gary Lineker is an ill-informed, ignorant commentator on the Middle East,” he said.

“The BDS movement [to boycott Israel] is a racist, anti-Semitic campaign and nobody who receives taxpayers’ money working in the BBC should be endorsing a campaign that is widely understood to promote Jew hate.”

Stephen Crabb, parliamentary chairman of the Conservative Friends of Israel, said: “This a deeply inappropriate tweet for any BBC figure to endorse and especially for someone of Lineker’s prominence.

“The BDS movement is riddled with antisemitism from top to bottom and deepens the divisions in our own society.

“Given all the problematic questions that have been raised previously about BBC bias during the Gaza conflict, they must not allow high-profile presenters to freelance on these incredibly sensitive issues.”

Mr Lineker has a history of causing controversy on the social media platform.

Gary Lineker signed a letter calling on the government to create a ‘fair new plan for refugees’ (Mike Egerton/PA) (PA Wire)
Gary Lineker signed a letter calling on the government to create a ‘fair new plan for refugees’ (Mike Egerton/PA) (PA Wire)

Last month Grant Shapps, the defence minister, said Mr Lineker should stick to football after he urged the government to scrap its plan to deport asylum seekers and migrants to Rwanda.

A BBC spokesperson said that individuals should be “civil”, adding: “We discuss issues that arise with presenters as necessary.”

Earlier in the year, Mr Lineker was at the centre of a BBC impartiality row after voicing criticism of the same government policy.

He was briefly asked by the broadcaster to take a step back from Match Of The Day but returned after fellow pundits boycotted various BBC sports shows in solidarity.

The scandal led to the BBC strengthening social media guidelines for staff on issues of impartiality and civility.

Staff not working in news and current affairs have slightly more freedom in expressing their personal views.

The BBC and Gary Lineker have been approached for comment.