Gary Lineker challenges Elon Musk after son receives abuse on Twitter

Family of BBC presenter attacked by social media trolls following impartiality row

Television presenter and former footballer Gary Lineker has claimed his son George received threatening messages on Twitter. EPA
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TV presenter Gary Lineker has challenged Twitter owner Elon Musk after claiming his son George received threatening messages on the social media platform.

The former footballer was reinstated as host of the BBC's Match Of The Day on Monday after he became embroiled in a stand-off with the broadcaster over accusations of impartiality.

The following social media row was when his eldest son George receive a private message, which said he should be “burned at the stake” for his public support of his father.

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

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(gram) – never had so many nice messages. On Twitter – never had so much abuse.

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

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 its director general Tim Davie announced a review of social media guidelines.

The dispute started after Lineker was taken off air for a tweet comparing the language used to launch a government asylum seeker policy to that used in 1930s Germany.

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 learnt 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.

Updated: March 14, 2023, 1:36 PM