Sports icon Gary Lineker reposts call to ban Israel from international football

Sports icon Gary Lineker reposts call to ban Israel from international football
The Match of the Day presenter has shown solidarity with Palestine after sharing a call to ban Israel's football team from international games.
3 min read
15 January, 2024
Gary Lineker has appeared to back calls for Israel to be banned from international football [Getty]

Football legend Gary Lineker has shared a post on social media platform X demanding that Israel be suspended from international football over its ongoing aggression in the Gaza Strip

Over 100 days into the deadly Israeli onslaught on the enclave, over 24,000 Palestinians have been killed - mostly women and children.  

Lineker, one of England's highest scorers and now Match of the Day presenter, reposted a plea by The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) to his 8.9 million followers on his social media account.

The post included a statement by the Palestinian Football Association (PFA) which said that the "flagrant violations" by Israel should persuade sports bodies to "protect the Palestinian sports facilities".

"The Palestinian Football Association calls on [International Olympic Committee], [FIFA] and all regional and int'l sports bodies to take an urgent stance on Israel’s grave violations of human rights and subject it to legal accountability measures," PACBI wrote. 

"We support the PFA demand and call for pressure on sporting bodies to suspend Israel until it ends its grave violations of international law, particularly its apartheid rule and the crime of genocide it is perpetrating in Gaza."

Prominent pro-Palestine voices have taken to X to back Lineker's call, who has faced a backlash from conservative media over his left-leaning political views.

"Good on you @GaryLineker. The Israeli Football Association includes teams based in illegal Israeli settlements on stolen Palestinian land. This is a flagrant violation of international law and the FIFA statutes. Between October to December, Israel killed 85 Palestinian athletes," The Tribune journalist Taj Ali posted on X. 

"When it’s not about football, his detractors say he should stick to football. Now he is speaking about football, they still have an issue with it. Ridiculous. This is nothing other than trying to stifle free speech on Israel. Complete solidarity with @GaryLineker," lawyer Zillur Rahman wrote in a separate post

Amid ongoing support for the BBC Match of the Day presenter, Lineker had also undergone right-wing backlash, reinstating their support for Israel as criticism mounts. 

Tory MP Andrew Percy, in an interview with The Telegraph, accused Lineker of being "an ill-informed, ignorant commentator on the Middle East”, whilst branding the BDS movement as an "antisemitic campaign".

A source for the BBC responded to the British publication, stating that they "aren't going to give a commentary on individuals or individual tweets".

Lineker was previously criticised by the UK right-wing after he called for an end to the UK government’s Rwanda migrant plan via Twitter.

In the tweet he said the UK government had used language that was similar to "that used by Germany in the 30s". 

The former footballer was suspended by the BBC over impartiality rules but later returned after his fellow pundits on MOTD threatened to suspend their work in support of the presenter. 

The scandal led to the BBC imposing stricter social media guidelines for staff on issues of impartiality and civility.