Who is refusing to go on Match of the Day?
After Gary Lineker was removed from Saturday's show by the BBC, other pundits have shown solidarity with former England striker
A number of high-profile pundits have shown solidarity with Gary Lineker after the former England striker was removed from hosting this Saturday's edition of Match of the Day following his criticism of UK government policy on Twitter.
Lineker tweeted his support (opens in new tab) for refugees this week, saying that the government's latest policy was "beyond awful" and "Immeasurably cruel", going on to add that the language employed was "not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s".
The former England captain's remarks sparked a backlash and the storm was chosen by the BBC as their top news story on Wednesday night.
Asked if he feared a suspension, Lineker said he did not and added that he was looking forward to presenting Saturday's Match of the Day.
However, it was announced on Friday that the 62-year-old would be "stepping back" from this weekend's show ahead of an investigation into the appropriateness of his comments as a BBC employee.
Following that news, Ian Wright quickly came out to say he would not be on Saturday's Match of the Day either.
"Everybody knows what Match of the Day means to me, but I’ve told the BBC I won’t be doing it tomorrow," he wrote on Twitter. "Solidarity."
Everybody knows what Match of the Day means to me, but I’ve told the BBC I won’t be doing it tomorrow. Solidarity.March 10, 2023
After Wright's tweet, former England right-back Gary Neville wrote on Twitter: "I had no doubt Ian Wright would do that! Who the hell is going to go on now!"
Alan Shearer soon confirmed he too would be sitting out Saturday's show. "I have informed the BBC that I won’t be appearing on MOTD tomorrow night," he wrote on Twitter.
Jermaine Jenas, Micah Richards and Alex Scott also ruled themselves out on Twitter, with the latter also revealing she would not be hosting Football Focus on Saturday.
"I made a decision last night that even though I love doing football focus and we have had an incredible week winning an SJA award that it just doesn't feel right going ahead with the show today," she wrote. "Hopefully I will be back in the chair next week..."
I made a decision last night that even though I love doing football focus and we have had an incredible week winning an SJA award that it just doesn’t feel right going ahead with the show today. Hopefully I will be back in the chair next week…March 11, 2023
Kelly Somers had been rumoured to take over in Scott's absence, but revealed on Twitter that she would be joining the boycott. "Just to confirm I won't be on BBC television today," she tweet on Saturday morning.
Later on Friday, the Match of the Day commentators also released a statement saying they would not be working on Saturday's programme.
"As commentators on MOTD, we have decided to step down from tomorrow night’s broadcast," they said. "We are comforted that football fans who want to watch their teams should still be able to do so, as management can use World Feed commentary if they wish."
In addition, Jason Mohammad revealed that he will not be appearing on Final Score this afternoon as that show, along with Football Focus, was wiped from the Saturday schedule.
"Final Score is a TV show very close to my heart. However - I have this morning informed the BBC that I will not be presenting the show this afternoon on BBC One," he wrote on Twitter.
Former Brighton forward Glenn Murray had been due to appear on both programmes, but revealed on Twitter that he would be part of the boycott.
"Was meant to be up in Media City today but reflecting last night I felt it was the right thing to do to step away from Focus & Score today," he wrote. "Hoping normal service resumes next week."
Match of the Day will go ahead of Saturday night without a presenter and with no punditry, the BBC said. There will also be no player interviews.
Saturday's Match of the Day will not have studio presenter or pundits after contributors pull out in solidarity with Gary Linekerhttps://t.co/AwGiFmS0Q1March 10, 2023
On Saturday, the PFA (Professional Footballers Association) also revealed that players will not take part in interviews for Saturday's Match of the Day.
And there were more problems for the BBC as Radio 5 Live axed its flagship football show minutes before airing on Saturday, with host Mark Chapman refusing to take part along with Dion Dublin, Colin Murray and others.
Chapman hosts Match of the Day 2 on Sundays and it is unclear how that show will go ahead, but former Tottenham and England striker Jermain Defoe revealed he would not be appearing.
"It's always such a privilege to work with BBC MOTD. But tomorrow I have taken the decision to stand down from my punditry duties," he wrote on Twitter.
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Ben Hayward is Weekend Editor for FourFourTwo. A European football writer with over 15 years’ experience, he has covered games all over the world - including three World Cups, several Champions League finals, Euros, Copa América - and has spent much of that time in Spain. He currently divides his time between Barcelona and London.