Ian Wright has accused the BBC of creating a ‘hot mess’ by axing and then reinstating Gary Lineker as Match of the Day host, insisting the fallout was a result of ‘mismanagement’ from senior official.
Lineker was forced to temporarily step down from his presenting role on the iconic football highlights programme last Friday after controversially comparing language used in the Government’s latest migration proposal to that of 1930s Nazi Germany, which BBC bosses felt breached their impartiality guidelines.
It is believed the 62-year-old was first asked to withdraw his post on Twitter and issue an apology over the comparison, yet this request fell on deaf ears as Lineker instead stood by his statement and refused to back down.
The BBC subsequently announced that he would not be involved in last Saturday’s MOTD as the two parties tried to reach an agreement, sparking a furious response from players, pundits, fans and journalists alike.
A number of his colleagues, including Wright, stood down from their own media duties on the BBC in solidarity with the former England striker.
Ian Wright (pictured) has accused the BBC of creating a ‘hot mess’ by axing and then reinstating Gary Lineker as Match of the Day host
Lineker was temporarily axed as presenter of the football highlights programme last Friday after controversially comparing language used by the Government to 1930s Nazi Germany
BBC director general Tim Davie backed down and asked Lineker to return amid fierce backlash
Wright (R) was one of many pundits who stood down from BBC duty in solidarity with Lineker
Lineker has since been reinstated as MOTD host after making a breakthrough in talks with the BBC, who are now set to revamp their impartiality guidelines in light of the controversial dispute.
Wright, a regular fixture on MOTD along with Lineker, believes the organisation managed the situation poorly and led people to forget ‘what really matters’ as a result.
‘Obviously it’s been a bit intense,’ the Arsenal legend said on Wrighty’s House podcast. ‘But I said on the podcast before it all kicked off, it’s a perfect distraction. It’s a perfect distraction from what really matters, and for me they made a hot mess I’m telling you.
‘This is all from high up. I can’t blame my man Phil Bernie, the BBC Sport team… all this is over a tweet. Gary Lineker riled them man up over a tweet. At some stage surely heads have got to roll.
‘The mismanagement levels of this is… I can’t even tell you. But it’s done. Everybody knows how I feel about it, but I’m just pleased that it’s kinda come to something.’
After refusing to appear on Match of the Day during Linekergate, Wright received a vile message on social media from Conservative MP Alexis McEvoy, who branded him a ‘typical black hypocrite’ over the row in a now-deleted tweet.
McEvoy has since expressed regret for making the remark and suspended herself from Conservative groups pending an investigation, but Wright is not prepared to accept her ‘fake apology’.
He continued: ‘There is one person that I want to address directly: the Hampshire councillor Alexis McEvoy. I just want to say to her, please just keep your fake apology to yourself.
Conservative MP Alexis McEvoy sparked controversy by labelling Wright a ‘typical black hypocrite’ in a vile response to the fallout
Wright has refused to forgive McEvoy (pictured) after she issued an apology over the tweet
‘I don’t give a ras about your apology, whether you disagree with my stance, whether you agree. But a ‘black hypocrite’? A ‘typical black hypocrite’?
‘I wanna read her statement. She said, “I am aware that a tweet I sent and then deleted has caused offence,” and this is the one, this is the one that you will always get in these racists’ statements, “I did not mean to do so and I am deeply sorry.”
‘A woman in power, she’s gone onto Twitter and put out something so racist and said she didn’t mean to do so. And then she says, which is another thing that always happen when these people are coming out to protect themselves, “I find racism in any form abhorrent. I have therefore reported myself to the monitoring officer at both Hampshire County Council and the New Forest District Council. I have suspended myself from the Conservative groups pending investigations.”
‘All I would like to say to her is… please. I would love these racists to come out, who don’t think before they tweet, and own your f****ng racism. Don’t come with these fake apologies about “I didn’t mean it”, because these people are the ones that give me energy to continue to try and fight for what is right and speak up for what is right. That is it. That is it for me.’