Gary Lineker deletes social media post calling for Israel football ban

Match Of The Day host Gary Lineker has removed a social media post that called for Israel to be banned from international football.

The former England star, now one of the highest profile presenters on the BBC, retweeted a post by The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) on X, formerly Twitter.

In the post, PACBI called for “international public and official pressure on international sporting bodies” – including football’s governing body FIFA and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) – to suspend Israel’s membership and ban it from international tournaments and games.

The group, affiliated with the wider Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS), called for the boycott “until Israel ends its grave violations of international law, particularly its apartheid rule and the crime of genocide it is perpetuating in Gaza”.

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Israel has denied committing genocide in Gaza, including in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) where a case has been brought against it by South Africa.

The retweet no longer appears on Lineker’s X account, which has more than 8.9 million followers.

It is believed the 63-year-old thought the post was news that Israel had been banned – rather than a campaign to ban them – and was not attempting to take a position on the issue.

Sky News also understands that the BBC does not regard the incident as a breach of its social media guidelines.

It comes after Lineker’s retweeting of the post prompted a news article by the Quds News Network under the headline: “Renowned English broadcaster calls for Israel to be banned from international football”.

The Quds News Network is a Palestinian youth news agency founded in 2011, which has previously been reported to be affiliated with Hamas.

However, the agency, which operates one of the most prominent Palestinian Facebook news sites, stresses it is independent and “does not follow any specific ideology” aside from the “values of freedom of the Palestinian people”.

Lineker’s retweet prompted criticism from a number of Conservative MPs – who have regularly taken umbrage with the presenter’s social media posts.

It also received criticism from the UK-based Campaign Against Antisemitism, which wrote: “Gary Lineker has a lot to say about a lot of things, but antisemitism does not appear to be one of them.

“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.”

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It comes after Lineker backed a new report on the BBC’s social guidelines, which said high-profile presenters should be able to express their views on political issues as long as they stop short of campaigning.

The report followed a row involving Lineker over a post on X in which he criticised the government’s rhetoric on asylum seekers.

The new BBC rules clarify that big-name stars must not endorse or attack a political party, criticise individual UK politicians, comment on issues of political debate during an election period, or take up an official role in campaigning.

Shortly after the announcement, Lineker shared a post on X saying: “All very sensible,” followed by a thumbs-up emoji.

Source : Sky News