Saturday’s Premier League matches will not feature the usual post-match interviews with players and managers, in a show of solidarity with BBC Sport’s Match of the Day programme.
The programme has been embroiled in controversy after presenter Gary Lineker was temporarily stood down following comments he made on social media, comparing the language used in the UK government’s new asylum policy to that used by Germany in the 1930s. Several of the show’s pundits, including Ian Wright, Alan Shearer and Alex Scott, have also chosen to stand in solidarity with Lineker and not participate in Saturday’s broadcast.
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The BBC initially stated that Match of the Day would go ahead without studio punditry, but it has now been revealed that commentator Steve Wilson and his colleagues from the show will not provide audio, and the programme will instead use commentary from the Premier League’s global feed.
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In addition, reports suggest that players and managers will also refuse to participate in post-match interviews with BBC Sport.
The Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) has backed players’ decisions to back away from media duties, releasing a statement prior to Saturday’s fixtures. The statement read: “We have been informed that players 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.”
The statement continued: “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 move is a powerful statement of support for Lineker and the Match of the Day team, and shows the footballing world’s willingness to stand up for what they believe in.