Gary Lineker questions Elon Musk after son receives abuse on Twitter

The recently reinstated Match Of The Day host asked the Twitter owner whether the language was ‘acceptable’.
The recently reinstated Match Of The Day host asked the Twitter owner whether the language was ‘acceptable’.

Gary Lineker has questioned Twitter owner Elon Musk after a threatening message was sent to his son in the wake of the sports presenter’s row with the BBC.

The former footballer, who was reinstated as host of Match Of The Day (MOTD) on Monday, re-shared a private message which said his eldest son, George, should to be “burned at the stake” for his public support of his father.

Lineker and other employees of the BBC have received abuse online following the ex-England striker’s brief suspension as host of MOTD at the weekend.

It came as those at the broadcaster were invited to lunchtime sessions in Salford on Tuesday so director-general Tim Davie and chief content officer Charlotte Moore could “hear from staff, take questions and reflect on the events of the last few days”, the PA news agency understands.

The abusive message, from an account with only one follower, described George as a “mug” for “sticking up” for what his father said, adding: “You need to be burned at the stake.”

Lineker wrote: “Is this acceptable @Twitter @elonmusk? And I don’t mean the grammar.”

Earlier in the day, George had tweeted: “Social media’s mad isn’t it. Over the last few days, on insta – never had so many nice messages. On Twitter – never had so much abuse.

“It’s not even anything to do with me.”

On Tuesday, Ofcom chief executive Dame Melanie Dawes told a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee meeting that it had been a “really difficult episode for the BBC” but that she hopes “they can find their way through it”.

Dame Melanie Dawes at the DCMS Committee
Ofcome chief Dame Melanie Dawes said she hopes the BBC ‘can find their way through’ (House of Commons/PA)

She said the BBC’s social media guidelines are not a matter for the media watchdog but for the broadcaster’s board to “draw that line” in order to safeguard the BBC’s reputation.

Shadow culture secretary Lucy Powell also told the Commons that Lineker being taken off air for tweeting something “the Government doesn’t like” sounds like “Putin’s Russia” – a comparison culture minister Julia Lopez described as “disgraceful”.

Football coverage on BBC TV and radio was hit across the weekend as pundits, presenters and reporters – including Alan Shearer, Ian Wright and Alex Scott – joined a walkout in solidarity with Lineker.

The BBC subsequently apologised and reinstated him as host of MOTD, while Mr Davie announced a review of social media guidelines at the broadcaster.

The row was sparked after Lineker was taken off air for a tweet comparing the language used to launch a new Government asylum seeker policy to that of 1930s Germany.

Royal Television Society London Convention 2022
BBC Director-General Tim Davie announced a review of social media guidelines after the row (Richard Kendal/RTS/PA)

On Monday, BBC sports presenter Mark Chapman returned after boycotting his weekend shows and noted that some staff members had been “at the receiving end of abuse for just doing their jobs”.

He added: “It is disgusting and unfair, and it is ironic that, in a row over impartiality, we have all been seen to be taking sides, and I feel there are lessons to be learned by all involved.”

The BBC reported on Monday that Mr Davie had sent an email to all staff in which he said: “I want to acknowledge how challenging the last few days have been and to say how grateful I am for all your work during this weekend’s disruption.”

Twitter and the BBC have been contacted for comment.