Gary Lineker admits 'regret' after posting 'offensive' tweet which led to BBC fall out: 'A great shame'

Gary Lineker

Gary Lineker admitted he has regret over his controversial tweet

Lauren Williams

By Lauren Williams

Published: 29/05/2024

- 20:20

Updated: 30/05/2024

- 07:32

The Match of the Day presenter has presenting the flagship football programme since the late 1990s

Gary Linker has admitted he regrets his tweet aimed at the Government's language around small boats which ultimately led to the football pundit being taken off air for several weeks.

In March 2023, Lineker took to his X account and claimed that the language from the government to launch a policy on small boat crossings was "not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s".

A video was put out by home secretary Suella Braverman, in which she unveiled Government plans to stop migrant boats crossing the Channel, leaving Linker to sub-tweet and comment.

He penned: "Good heavens, this is beyond awful. 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, and I’m out of order?"

His comments were widely condemned by Tory politicians, who urged the BBC to take action.

Gary Lineker

Gary Lineker was taken off air for his comment


Now, the 63-year-old has suggested that the real problem was the critical headlines which were published by the Daily Mail, noting it was a "distortion" of his original comment.

Speaking at the Hay festival in Powys, he said: "The one thing I do regret is that it was a fallout between me and the BBC and it should have been a fallout between the BBC and the Daily Mail.

"I think it is a great shame what happened, because it pretty much pitched me against the BBC, and I love the BBC. I don’t think we shout our corner enough, we get a little too defensive, particularly with worrying about what’s in the Daily Mail.

"They’ve got a raison d’etre and they wanted a story on the BBC. I think the BBC needs to not worry as much about the Daily Mail and worry about what the people who love the BBC care about."

Gary Lineker

Gary claimed that the headlines from the Daily Mail made it worse


He recalled the moments after posting the tweet, adding he went to be and switched his phone off, before waking up the following morning to hundreds of WhatsApp messages and initially fearing for his family.

When he found out what happened, he claimed he thought: "Phew, that’s all it is," before being chased by photographers "like something out of Benny Hill".

Lineker admitted that after he learned he would be taken off Match of the Day that weekend, he shed a tear when co-hosts Ian Wright and Alan Shearer decided to boycott the football highlights programme in solidarity.

"That’s friendship, that’s support. One of the great strengths of the BBC is that we’ll self-analyse and be self-critical".

Gary Lineker

Gary's colleagues stood in solidarity with him


He noted that he understood why many athletes didn’t wish to stick their heads above the parapet on political issues, he claimed that “social media can be awful at times."

"I don’t do it to try to influence at all, I do it so I can look myself in the mirror. I think it’s important."

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