Gary Lineker faces backlash from Tory MPs over human rights award

Gary Lineker reinstated as presenter as BBC apologises

Gary Lineker has come under criticism from Tory MPs after it emerged he is set to receive an award for his activism.

The Match of the Day Host will accept the Sport and Human Rights gong at a ceremony in Rome on Wednesday.

The award is part of a collaboration between Amnesty International and Italian organisation Sport4Society to highlight outstanding contributions to human rights in the field of sport.

Amnesty International described the former England footballer as a “staunch advocate for the rights of refugees and migrants.”

But the BBC presenter – who sparked controversy in March by taking to Twitter to attack the Government’s Illegal Migration Bill and compare language used to that of 1930s Germany – is facing a backlash from Conservative MPs.

South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay said: “It is another self-congratulatory fest of one woke group to another woke activist.”

Senior Tory Gareth Johnson said: “Gary Lineker needs to decide if he wants to be a politician or a public broadcaster. He can’t do both.”

Sir John Hayes, chairman of the Common Sense Group of Conservative MPs, added: “This award is a matter of regret, but also rather pathetic.

“Perhaps it is time for Gary to hang up his microphone as he did his boots long ago.”

Mr Lineker will collect his award alongside footballer Natali Shaheen, the former Palestine captain currently playing for FC Athena Sassari in the Italian five-a-side league Calcio a 5.

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Just months ago, the 62-year-old was at the centre of a BBC impartiality row over his tweets condemning the Government’s proposed legislation to stop small boats.

In early March, the former England striker retweeted a Home Office video in which Home Secretary Suella Braverman promoted new laws to end Channel crossings and said: “Good heavens, this is beyond awful.”

In a response to a social media user, the football pundit then 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.”

Mr Lineker was taken off air by the BBC, but returned to his Match of the Day presenting role following a boycott by fellow on-air talent.

The BBC has since launched an independent review of its social media guidance for freelancers.

Speaking on The Rest is Politics podcast later in March, Mr Lineker said he was “bewildered” by the “disproportionate” response to his intervention.

He said: “I love the BBC. I’ve been there for nearly 30 years but people make mistakes, they recognise that and they addressed it and in the end, thankfully, we’re all back to work.”

The BBC has been contacted for comment.

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