Former Premier League striker Alan Shearer has joined Ian Wright in deciding to boycott the BBC’s television programme Match of the Day after it hosted Gary Lineker’s stand-off with the broadcasting corporation.
Match of the Day, which has been broadcast since 1964 and draws millions of viewers each week, focuses on the analysis and discussion of the Premier League games played over the weekend.
The boycott started after Lineker, former England international and host of Match of the Day since 1999, publicly criticised the corporation for using civilians to comment on social media-related sports matters during Match of the Day programmes, without featuring former professional footballers.
The comment was made after the corporation aired footage of a video on Twitter of a girl playing football in Kenya, with a caption that asked viewers to give their opinion on whether or not the standard of the sport was the same in other countries.
Lineker’s frustration led to an argument with the BBC, after they denied access to a recording of the incident during the Match of the Day programme. Lineker took to Twitter to threaten a boycott of the programme, saying: “We won’t be featuring on @BBCSport MOTD this weekend due to @BBCSport having the audacity to use auditions from members of the public when they should be using premier league footballers. Don’t get me started on the off sides, VAR and the boring games this past week. Outrageous.”
Ian Wright, the former Arsenal and England striker, who joined the BBC as a pundit after his retirement from professional football in 2000, also backed Lineker by agreeing to join the boycott. “If they are using members of the public instead of former players, they are missing out on the expertise and analysis of former professionals with years of experience in the sport,” Wright said.
Shearer, the former Newcastle United and England striker, has been a pundit for the programme since 2006, and said: “I support Gary and Ian’s decision to boycott the programme. Match of the Day should be a platform to promote the knowledge and expertise of past and present footballers, not the opinions of anonymous members of the public.”
The boycott has gathered support from former Premier League players, including Rio Ferdinand and Frank Lampard, both of whom have worked as pundits on the show. Ferdinand said: “The programme should invite former professionals to offer their insights and analysis, not random individuals on social media.”
Lampard, now the manager of Chelsea, said: “I have always spoken out against the use of social media in the programme, and I’m glad to see that Gary and Ian are taking a stand on this issue.”
The BBC has defended its use of civilians, stating that it provides a diverse range of opinions on the programme. In a statement, the corporation said: “Match of the Day has always been a platform for diverse views and opinions on football, and we continue to value the contribution of all of our guests, both professional and non-professional.”
However, the BBC’s response was criticised by former professional footballers, who pointed out that the programme’s credibility and value was based on the knowledge and expertise of former players.
The boycott by the former professionals has highlighted the need for broadcasters to value the knowledge and expertise of professional footballers. Many experts believe that the use of social media comments from anonymous individuals instead of professional footballers could set a dangerous precedent, undermining the quality of analysis.
It remains to be seen whether the boycott by Lineker, Shearer, and Wright will have a long-term impact on the future of Match of the Day and other sports programmes. However, it has highlighted the importance of valuing the insight and expertise of former professionals in offering intelligent analysis and commentary on sports issues, particularly in a world driven by social media.