Footballers to boycott Match Of The Day interviews to support Gary Lineker

Gary Lineker. PA
Gary Lineker will not be appearing on tonight's Match Of The Day. Credit: PA

Teams are planning to boycott BBC sports interviews today, in solidarity with Match Of The Day presenter Gary Lineker.

Footballers will be backed to boycott Match Of The Day interviews to support the show's absent star, the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) said.

The Bristol Rovers became the first team to publicly declare a boycott of pre and post-match interviews on Saturday - announcing in a tweet that the side would not be speaking to the BBC today.

The official confirmation from the PFA came after speculation spread footballers were eager to join the BBC show's presenters, pundits, and commentators in pulling out of appearances.

The boycotts appear to have sent the BBC's programming into meltdown, as presenters and reporters pulled out of Football Focus and Final Score.

The shows were quickly replaced in the BBC's Saturday scheduling on iPlayer by Bargain Hunt and The Repair Shop, respectively.

The PFA has confirmed that players involved in today's matches do not want to appear in interviews, and said it would support those may face backlash over taking a 'collective' stance.

Premier League Matches today include: Bournemouth v Liverpool, Everton v Brentford, Leeds United v Brighton & Hove Albion, Leicester City v Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur v Nottingham Forest and Crystal Palace v Manchester City.

It comes after MOTD regulars Ian Wright and Alan Shearer said they would not appear on the show in solidarity with Lineker.

The PFA, the union for professional footballers, issued a statement on Saturday morning, confirming it had been approached by players who wanted support to boycott post-match interviews.

A spokesman for the PFA said: “We have been informed that players involved in today’s games will not be asked to participate in interviews with Match Of The Day.

“The PFA have been speaking to members who wanted to take a collective position and to be able to show their support for those who have chosen not to be part of tonight’s programme.

“During those conversations we made clear that, as their union, we would support all members who might face consequences for choosing not to complete their broadcast commitments.

“This is a common sense decision that ensures players won’t now be put in that position.”

The BBC pulled the former professional footballer off the show following controversy over his tweet criticising the government's migration policy.

Current BBC guidelines state staff need to follow editorial guidelines and editorial oversight on social media in the same way as when doing content.

However questions remained on Saturday morning over how the rules apply to Lineker is a freelance broadcaster for the BBC, not a permanent member of staff, and, as a sports show presenter, is not responsible for news or political content.

In a statement, the BBC said it had decided Lineker should step back until there was a 'clear and agreed' position on his use of social media.