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Gary Lineker releases statement following face mask controversy

The former footballer faced criticism this week

Gemma Strong

Gary Lineker has reacted to criticism he received this week after he was photographed shopping without his face mask. The former footballer was pictured browsing the aisles in a branch of Marks and Spencer in Barnes, south-west London without a covering over his nose and mouth.

MORE: Everything you need to know about Gary Lineker – from family to Twitter controversies

Taking to Twitter on Monday, Gary apologised for his mistake. "In my old age I went into a store and forgot to put my mask on. Was wondering why people were giving me daggers. Realised after a couple of minutes and hastily put it on.

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"Felt awful and embarrassed. Apologies to those present."

The 59-year-old Match of the Day presenter has been vocal about the importance of wearing masks. On 14 July, he tweeted: "Why would anyone object to wearing a mask in a shop? Not exactly a hardship. What a country of snowflakes we've become.''

MORE: Gary Lineker's love life: meet his ex-wives Danielle Bux, Michelle Cockayne and more

He also previously tweeted: "Wearing masks, of all things, is the most obvious thing we can do to help decrease the spread of the virus and the smallest of all the sacrifices. No brainer.''

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Gary has been vocal about the importance of wearing face masks

Wearing a face mask has been made compulsory in shops, supermarkets, shopping centres, public transport and most other indoor settings. People who do not comply with the rule without a valid exemption can receive fines of £200, which increases for repeated offences.

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The controversy comes days after Gary shared a funny snapshot of two of his four sons, Harry, 26, and Angus, 22. The TV presenter shares his children – George, Harry, Tobias and Angus – with his ex-wife Michelle Cockayne.

The couple married in 1986 but split 20 years later with Michelle citing "unreasonable behaviour".

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The star is a proud father of four

Following the split, Gary started dating model Danielle Bux after the pair were set up on a blind date in 2007. The couple tied the knot in a wedding exclusively covered by HELLO! in 2009 in Italy.

However, in 2016, Gary and Danielle parted ways as they reportedly had different ideas about starting a family together.

MORE: Gary Lineker's ex-wife Danielle Bux shares gorgeous new photo from secret wedding

The pair have remained on great terms, though. Speaking to The Mirror in 2019, Gary explained: "Danielle and I are best mates, we still speak three times a day, we text all the time. When she comes to London she stays with me, and when I go to LA I see her."

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