(Reuters) - Former England captain Gary Lineker has been taken off air by the BBC and will step back from presenting its flagship Match of the Day (MOTD) programme after a row between the government and the presenter over his comments on Britain's migration policy.
He was told there has to be an agreed position on his use of social media before he can return, the BBC said on Friday.
Following are reactions to the decision:
FIRST MINISTER OF SCOTLAND NICOLA STURGEON
"As a strong supporter of public service broadcasting, I want to be able to defend the BBC. But the decision to take Gary Lineker off air is indefensible. It is undermining free speech in the face of political pressure - & it does always seem to be right-wing pressure it caves to."
TV HOST PIERS MORGAN,
"It’s now a sackable offence in Britain to express an opinion. What a pathetic state of affairs."
MOTD PUNDIT AND FORMER ARSENAL PLAYER IAN WRIGHT
"Everybody knows what Match of the Day means to me, but I’ve told the BBC I won’t be doing it tomorrow. Solidarity."
MOTD PUNDIT AND FORMER NEWCASTLE UNITED PLAYER ALAN SHEARER
"I have informed the BBC that I won’t be appearing on MOTD tomorrow night."
LABOUR PARTY'S HOME AFFAIRS SPOKESPERSON YVETTE COOPER
"The focus on this is being used by the government, both to find someone to blame and also to distract from their own serious failures."
FORMER LABOUR LEADER JEREMY CORBYN
"Well done Gary Lineker for standing up for refugees. Well done Ian Wright for showing the meaning of solidarity."
HEAD OF BECTU UNION PHILIPPA CHILDS
"This is a deeply concerning decision from the BBC. It will give the appearance that they have bowed to political pressure from ministers to take someone off air for disagreeing with the policies of the current government."
FORMER CULTURE SECRETARY NADINE DORRIES
"News that Gary Lineker has been stood down for investigation is welcome and shows BBC are serious about impartiality."
"Gary is entitled to his views - free speech is paramount. Lots of non Public Service Broadcasters can accommodate him and his views and he would be better paid."
MOTD PUNDIT AND FORMER MANCHESTER CITY PLAYER MICAH RICHARDS
"I was not due to be working on MOTD tomorrow, but if I was, I would find myself taking the same decision that Ian Wright and Alan Shearer have."
MOTD PUNDIT AND EX-TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR PLAYER JERMAINE JENAS
"I wasn't down to be doing Match of the Day tomorrow, but if I was I would have said no and stood with my fellow pundits and Gary Lineker."
(Collected by Tommy Lund in Gdansk; Editing by Ken Ferris)