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Gary Lineker says it’s a compliment to appear on celebrity ‘woke list’

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Gary Lineker has revealed he views scoring a spot on a Sunday newspaper “Woke List” of celebs and public figures as a “compliment”.

The Mail on Sunday included the BBC pundit in its tally of “woke” figures from British public life who “are most high-profile in their awakedness to perceived injustices in society – but who have also been accused of having an exaggerated fixation with such issues”.

Other celebrities making the list included Harry Potter actor Emma Watson and the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Match of the Day host Lineker, 62, was taken off air by the BBC after being caught up in a row over impartiality in March.

He had compared the language used to launch a government asylum seeker policy with 1930s Germany on X, formerly known as Twitter. During the 1930s the Nazi party came to power.

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Benching Lineker sparked a backlash and resulted in a number of his fellow sports pundits, including Ian Wright and Alan Shearer, boycotting Match of the Day.

The pundit was reinstated swiftly and later said he was given a “standing ovation” in Marks and Spencer by shoppers during the furore.

Speaking to the Telegraph about being included in the “Woke List” he said: “I would ask you, what is ‘woke’? Is it a bad thing? Is it just referring to people who have some kind of social conscience?

“I don’t necessarily find being called woke an insult. So, it’s a strange one. But if you keep putting it out there that ‘woke is bad, woke is bad’, people will eventually believe that it is, whatever ‘woke’ may be.”

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He added that “it just doesn’t make sense to me” and that he never feels insulted by being called woke “because I think it’s a compliment”.

Lineker returned to his presenting duty on March 18, where he fronted live coverage of Manchester City’s FA Cup quarter-final against Burnley alongside Shearer and Micah Richards.

Following the incident, BBC director-general Tim Davie said the corporation had commissioned an independent review of its social media guidelines, particularly for freelancers.

Mr Davie apologised for what he acknowledged had been “a difficult period for staff, contributors, presenters and, most importantly, our audiences” and described the BBC’s commitment to freedom of expression and impartiality as a “difficult balancing act”.

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