False: The Guardian published an article arguing that Gary Lineker 'never would have been censored if he had been white.'

By: Sam Doak
March 15 2023

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False: The Guardian published an article arguing that Gary Lineker 'never would have been censored if he had been white.'


The Verdict False

This image was created using an online tool that has recently resurfaced after being taken down in 2020. The article in question does not exist.

Claim ID 48509bb0


On March 7, 2023, the Home Office published a video on Twitter in which Suella Braverman stated the government's commitment to stopping migrants crossing the English Channel. This coincided with the unveiling of the Illegal Migration Bill, which has faced sharp criticism from human rights organizations and others. 

In response to the Home Office's video, football commentator Gary Lineker tweeted that the plans were "beyond awful." In a follow-up tweet, the football commentator argued, "This is just an immeasurably cruel policy directed at the most vulnerable people in language that is not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the '30s, and I'm out of order?"

The following day, a representative of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak criticized Lineker, stating, "It's obviously disappointing to see someone whose salary is funded by hardworking British taxpayers using that kind of rhetoric and seemingly dismissing their legitimate concerns that they have about small boats crossings and illegal migration." 

On March 10, the BBC announced that Lineker would "step back from presenting Match of the Day until we've got an agreed and clear position on his use of social media." Following a public backlash and walkout involving Lineker's colleagues, the presenter was reinstated on March 13. 

In the midst of this dispute, an image circulated on social media platforms that was designed to resemble an article published by The Guardian. Purportedly written by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, its headline reads, "Gary Lineker spoke his mind. He never would have been censored if he had been white." A section of text below this elaborates further, stating, "The BBC presenter's sidelining will delight the right-wing. The last thing they want is more Black people on TV." 

In Fact 

This article was not published by The Guardian. Logically has concluded that it is a fabrication inspired by an article written by Jonathan Freedland. The title of this piece strongly resembles that shown in the image in question, reading, "Gary Lineker spoke his mind. Now we should too: fate could have put any one of us in those migrant boats."

While it has been previously reported that this image is likely an edited screenshot, Logically has uncovered evidence that suggests it was made using an online tool called Guardian Meme Generator. While this site was taken down in 2020 after the newspaper launched legal action against it, a GitHub user shared a renovated version of the project available for download in January 2023, meaning the tool is still accessible. Logically reviewed the image added to this tool depicting Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, which matches that included in the fake article concerning Lineker. The Guardian has never used this headshot of Alibhai-Brown, and a search of its website shows that she has not written an article for the newspaper since November 2016. 

In a statement given to Reuters, The Guardian has confirmed that the picture in question does not show an article published by them. 

The Verdict 

The Guardian did not publish an article with this headline. The image in question was created using an online tool that was taken down in 2020 but has been recently revived by a GitHub user. This claim has therefore been marked as false.  

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