LONDON: BBC football commentator Gary Lineker has received a Sport and Human Rights Award from Amnesty International alongside Natali Shaheen, the first Palestinian footballer to play professionally in Europe.
Lineker received the prize for “his strong commitment to immigration and human rights issues” after criticizing the rhetoric used by UK government officials when discussing asylum policy in March.
The BBC temporarily suspended the 62-year-old former footballer following a contentious tweet in which he compared the language used for implementing the government’s asylum-seeker policy to that used in the 1930s, The Guardian reported.
His acceptance of the award was condemned by some Conservative MPs, notably Craig Mackinlay who called it “another self-congratulatory fest of one woke group to another woke activist.”
Lineker told The Guardian: “What I was trying to say was that I think we need to be careful with the language we use towards people who have to flee their countries, because of persecution, because of war and possibly climate change, and I think we need to show them compassion, empathy and kindness.”
Shaheen was recognized for bringing attention to the social, political, and economic challenges that Palestinian women confront when participating in football.
The former Palestine captain, who now plays futsal in Sardinia, wrote a book called “Un Calcio ai Pregiudizi” — translated as “a kick to prejudices.”
She has donated money toward associations dedicated to the training of young female footballers in Palestine and Sardinia, The Guardian reported.
Shaheen has emphasized the ability of sport, particularly football, to “change many things and many mentalities.”