UK Football and Politics: Match of the Day shortened and silenced in wake of Lineker row 0

The BBC’s flagship football highlights show Match of the Day was cut short on Saturday as pundits and commentators pulled out after presenter Gary Lineker was taken off air by the corporation.

Lineker was told to “step back” from the role he has held since 1999 on Friday after an impartiality row broke out over the former England striker’s comparison of the UK government’s rhetoric in tackling illegal immigration to Nazi-era Germany.

But the decision sparked a major backlash from BBC pundits and commentators, decimating the publicly-funded broadcaster’s sports schedule.

First broadcast in 1964, Match of the Day is the world’s longest-running football television programme and has grown into a cultural phenomenon in Britain.

For the first time it was broadcast without a presenter, pundits or even commentary with only crowd noise accompanying a 20-minute highlights package of six Premier League games, an hour less than scheduled.

The programme’s famous theme tune was even dropped for an introduction apologising to viewers for the curtailed show.

Source: AFP