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Gary Lineker has deleted a tweet amid a backlash over a “misogynist” pun he made about Chloe Kelly’s goal celebration after scoring the winner in the Euro 2022 women’s final.
Kelly removed her shirt after scoring England’s second goal in extra-time, wheeling away with team-mates in jubilant scenes at a packed Wembley.
But Lineker faced allegations of “casual sexism” after posting a comment on Sunday evening that “Kelly is England’s heroine, bra none.”
He deleted the message after it sparked hundreds of crude jokes in the replies, but also criticism from those who had taken offence. One Twitter user replied: “Seriously Gary? An epic win, a game-changer for women’s sport, a call to arms for young girls who have been told they can’t. And you minimise this glory down to a joke about a woman’s clothing/underwear. Casual sexism is rife here and the @Lionesses deserve better.”
Screenshots of the message continued to be circulated on Monday. “Now deleted but misogynist screenshots are for ever and ever and ever,” one feminist campaigner wrote. The BBC host’s full message said: “The @Lionesses have only gone and done it, and Kelly is England’s heroine, bra none.”
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Lineker later declined to say sorry over the message in an exchange with a campaigner. Karen Ingala Smith, chief executive of the Nia charity campaigning against violence aimed at women, had messaged him: “Please apologise for and condemn the sexist responses to your now deleted badly judged tweet.” Lineker replied: “It was just a play on words given the celebration. I do rubbish like that constantly on here, including on men’s football. I’ve deleted it as many people didn’t see the game so missed the context.”
Among those who relished Kelly’s celebration was Brandi Chastain, the United States World Cup winner who became famous for a similar celebration more than 20 years ago.