Gary Lineker has waded into the debate over the future of the BBC, dubbing culture secretary John Whittingdale "a chump" for joking about abolishing the broadcaster.
The Match of the Day presenter took to Twitter to call out the politician, saying: "This chump sums politicians up. The BBC is revered throughout the world. We should be proud of it, not destroy it," in response to a story posted by the Guardian claiming Whittingdale had described the potential collapse of the BBC as a "tempting prospect."
This chump sums politicians up. The BBC is revered throughout the World. We should be proud of it, not destroy it. https://t.co/WvNmDUKOMD
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) May 4, 2016
The comments were made during a talk at Cambridge University's Conservative Association, according to the Guardian, where Whittingdale also told the audience that the BBC's approach to impartiality drives him "insane".
Also in Lineker's firing line was the Sun, which picked up on his Whittingdale tweet and ran a follow-up article calling him a "sniping left-wing bore," something the former England striker described as a "career high".
In @TheSun I've been accused of having morals, fighting for social justice and being alright at my job. Thank you. pic.twitter.com/I4cMyAJ77f — Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) May 5, 2016
The row comes ahead of the cabinet member's government-backed white paper on the future of the BBC later this month, part of a new royal charter to safeguard the service for another 11 years.
Leaked documents seen by the Guardian have so far have indicated that Whittingdale is planning a shakedown of the institution, recommending measures that would see primetime shows like Sherlock banned from being broadcast at peak times.