BBC bosses ban pundits from wearing Black Lives Matter badges

The BBC has banned football presenters and guests from wearing Black Lives Matter badges.

Senior sources at the corporation told The Telegraph they did not want “visual symbols of support” for the antiracism movement to be worn on screen due to concerns it was becoming political.

Broadcasters Sky and BT – who had previously encouraged pundits to wear the badges and displayed the Black Lives Matter logo on graphics – have now left the decision up to personal preference.

Former Manchester United left-back Patrice Evra reportedly led a move drop the badges for Sky’s Premier League coverage on Tuesday.

But they made a comeback on Wednesday when Evra’s long-time Chelsea counterpart Ashley Cole chose to continue wearing his badge.

A BBC source told The Telegraph they had already made a blanket call: “The BBC cannot be seen to support any kind of cause over another, and Black Lives Matter is certainly a campaign.

“Therefore, we wouldn’t want anyone on-screen to be wearing visual symbols of support.”

They added: “Our presenters and guests can discuss Black Lives Matter, and we've reported on it in depth. We're not impartial about racism. But wearing badges on screen – as with any other campaign – would be a step too far.”

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Concerns came up over the ideology running alongside the antiracism of Black Lives Matter a series of tweets in which the movement’s UK account criticised Israel and its founding principles.

It also called on the British government to “defund the police” in favour of youth services.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola accused the FA of double standards, having received a fine two years ago for wearing a yellow ribbon in solidarity with Catalan politicians put in prison for their role in their independence campaign.

Meanwhile, Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker distanced himself from Black Lives Matter owing to its views on Palestine.

Former Southampton striker Matt Le Tissier said he only wore the Black Lives Matter badge after being asked to do so by Sky and has criticised the group’s “far-left ideology” – saying he could not support its economic aims.

A BBC spokesperson said: “It is long established that BBC broadcasters and journalists don’t tend to wear campaign insignia and badges, and absolutely nothing about that principle has changed.”

Current players are expected to continue wearing shirts emblazoned with ‘Black Lives Matter’ on the back and sleeve, as well as ‘taking a knee’ before every match for the rest of the season, after league chiefs made a distinction between the group and the cause, which was highlighted by the tragic killing of George Floyd.

The Premier League said it recognised “the importance of the message that black lives matter” – opting not to mention the organisation’s name in upper case – but emphasised that it “does not endorse any political organisation or movement, nor support any group that calls for violence or condones illegal activity.”

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