Ian Wright, the Arsenal and England legend, has pulled out of his scheduled appearance on Match of the Day after Gary Lineker was taken off air.
The former striker, who is a regular on the BBC show, was due to appear on the programme on Saturday night but has now withdrawn from the show.
Lineker, who has been the face of the show since 1999, was taken off air after making comments about the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
The BBC said in a statement: “We have taken the decision to remove Gary Lineker from Match of the Day this weekend. We will make an announcement about his replacement in due course.”
Wright, who is a close friend of Lineker, was due to appear on the show alongside Alan Shearer and Danny Murphy.
However, he has now decided to pull out of the show in a show of solidarity with Lineker.
Wright took to Twitter to explain his decision, writing: “I have decided to pull out of this weekend’s Match of the Day in support of my friend @GaryLineker.
“I know how much he loves the show and I know how much he loves football. I hope he is back soon.”
The decision to take Lineker off air has been met with criticism from some quarters, with many arguing that the BBC is censoring him for speaking out against the government.
Lineker himself has also spoken out against the decision, tweeting: “I understand the BBC’s decision given the circumstances. I’m just disappointed that we live in a world where people are not allowed to speak their mind.”
The BBC has said that Lineker will return to the show in due course, but it remains to be seen when that will be.
In the meantime, Wright’s decision to pull out of the show in support of his friend is a testament to the strength of their friendship.
It is also a reminder that, even in the midst of a pandemic, people are still willing to stand up for what they believe in.