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Self Esteem supports Gary Lineker with ‘Free Gary’ t-shirt amid BBC row

The sports presenter today (March 13) thanked everyone for their ‘incredible support’ after it was announced that he will return to air

By Hollie Geraghty

Self Esteem live in Newcastle
Self Esteem live in Newcastle (Picture: Ricky Atterby)

Self Esteem showed her support for Gary Lineker at a live show this weekend by wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with the words “Free Gary” amid the sports presenter’s row with the BBC.

The singer – real name Rebecca Lucy Taylor – performed at London’s Eventim Apollo on Saturday (March 11), where she wore the t-shirt in support of the football pundit. “Thank you London. Solidarity @GaryLineker,” she posted on social media.

Her performative statement came as the BBC sports presenter found himself at the centre of an impartiality row with the broadcaster following his criticism of the government’s new asylum seeker policy.

The former England striker said the policy was “directed at the most vulnerable people,” and compared the rhetoric around the proposed measures as “not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s”.

On Friday (March 10), the BBC then said Lineker would step back from presenting duties on Match Of The Day until they have “an agreed and clear position on his use of social media”.

The BBC‘s football coverage across this weekend was further disrupted after Ian Wright and Alan Shearer also pulled out in “solidarity” with Lineker.

However, today (March 13), the BBC announced that Lineker would return to air as it intends to begin an independent review of its social media guidelines, which will focus on how this applies to freelancers like Lineker.

In a statement, BBC Director General Tim Davie apologised for the loss of sports programming over the weekend, noting that there are “grey areas” with social media guidance.

“Gary is a valued part of the BBC and I know how much the BBC means to Gary, and I look forward to him presenting our coverage this coming weekend.”

Lineker added in the statement: “I am glad that we have found a way forward. I support this review and look forward to getting back on air.”

Self Esteem’s support for Lineker came after Fatboy Slim projected the former footballer’s face on a screen behind him during a DJ set in Manchester on Friday (March 10).

In a series of tweets, Lineker shared that he was “delighted” to have navigated “a way through this”.

“I want to thank you all for the incredible support, particularly my colleagues at BBC sport, for the remarkable show of solidarity. Football is a team game but their backing was overwhelming.

“I have been presenting sport on the BBC for almost 3 decades and am immeasurably proud to work with the best and fairest broadcaster in the world. I cannot wait to get back in the MOTD chair on Saturday.”

He went on: “A final thought: however difficult the last few days have been, it simply doesn’t compare to having to flee your home from persecution or war to seek refuge in a land far away. It’s heartwarming to have seen the empathy towards their plight from so many of you.

“We remain a country of predominantly tolerant, welcoming and generous people. Thank you.”