AS I SEE IT COLUMN: Soccer announcer riles up all of Britain


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In the latest example of a sports story becoming a front-page hard news story, we travel across the ocean to Britain.

As the inventors of soccer, Brits are extremely passionate about the game, just as Canadians are intensely passionate about hockey. They take their “football” very, very seriously.

So when the top soccer broadcaster was taken off the air on BBC (the country’s public broadcaster) for criticizing the British government’s harsh stance on immigration and asylum-seekers, it was above-the-fold news and sparked a fury all across England.

While not as vile and cruel as former President Trump’s immigration policy where he ripped babies from their parent’s arms, put young children in cages and made sure the documentation process was purposefully and intentionally lax to make family reunifications as hard as possible – basically the personification of pure evil and reason number one why no moral person can justify supporting such a disgusting person – Britain is proposing tough new laws where asylum-seekers would be detained, deported back to their country of origin and banned from ever re-entering Britain.

This led BBC soccer commentator, former star player and captain of their national team Gary Lineker, who won the Golden Boot at the 1986 World Cup, to say the following on social media:

The British government’s directive is “an immeasurably cruel policy directed at the most vulnerable people, in language that is not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s.”

The BBC said Lineker’s comments broke rules about impartiality and diminished the tragedy of the Holocaust. (Just like there are sinister forces in Canada trying to silence progressive opinions on the CBC and reshape political discourse, the same is happening at the BBC.)

That prompted the BBC to suspend Lineker, who happens to be the highest-paid presenter on the entire BBC, news or sports, and had been broadcasting soccer for over 30 years. He has also hosted refugees in his home.

This is where the story gets even more interesting. Lineker’s suspension created a near mutiny at the BBC.

Instead of backing down or watering down his comments, Lineker refused to apologize to the BBC. Then, more than 30 other BBC staffers, some in front of the camera and some behind it, refused to work at any of the BBC’s soccer matches over the weekend in an incredible display of unity.

The result was soccer was shown on BBC, but without any play-by-play and without any colour analysis. And with so many technical folks walking out in support of Lineker, the games couldn’t even be shown in their entirety: they had to broadcast truncated highlight versions of the games.

This prompted a national outcry from British soccer fans. Not to punish Lineker, but to get him reinstated immediately and for the head of the BBC to step down.

The nationwide pressure to get Lineker back on the air worked. There are reports out of England that he will be doing soccer again this weekend. The people of Great Britain have spoken and forced the BBC into retreat.

Lineker wrote on social media “After a surreal few days, I’m delighted that we have navigated a way through this. I want to thank you all for the incredible support, particularly my colleagues at BBC Sport, for the remarkable show of solidarity…A final thought: however difficult the last few days have been, it simply doesn’t compare to having to flee your home from persecution or war to seek refuge in a land far away. It’s heartwarming to have seen the empathy towards their plight from so many of you.”

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Big-time congratulations to the SRSS Sabres boys hockey team. After winning the AAAA high school hockey championships – the first in Sabres’ history – they own the bragging rights to the title of best high school hockey team in the province. Well done!

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