GARY Neville’s World Cup rant sparked more than 440 complaints to media watchdog Ofcom.
The pundit has come under fire after hijacking ITV’s coverage to compare the working conditions of strikers in the UK to migrant workers in scandal-hit Qatar.
Ofcom has reportedly put ITV under pressure to explain the ex-England ace’s political tirade in the run-up to Sunday’s World Cup final.
The regulator has said it is assessing Neville’s on-air statements “as a priority” as he potentially faces an investigation over whether he breached the broadcasting code.
And ITV sources have warned bosses will be “reminding our sports presenters” to avoid politicizing its coverage, reports DailyMail.
Since the extraordinary rant, several other footballing pundits have hit out after feeling he crossed a line.
Harry Redknapp dubbed the ex-Manchester United star a “hypocrite” and said his speech was “completely ridiculous”.
He told TalkTV: “How can you compare what’s going on out there with what’s going on with train drivers and nurses.
We want to see nurses get more money, of course we do, they’re fantastic.
“But you can’t compare the two situations. It’s completely ridiculous.”
And former Three Lions player Danny Mills also slated the rant.
Asked on GB News if Neville should have made the speech, he said: “I don’t think so.
“You have a platform as a pundit, as a person on telly, you clearly have opinions, but there are people better read, better versed to understand all the situations in this.
We saw it at the start of the World Cup with the BBC not putting on showing the opening ceremony on the main channel. And then a bit of a monologue from Gary Lineker.
It’s OK to have opinions, but if you want to do that, do it on your own social media channels because I think you have more influence.
“When you start getting into mixing politics right across the board, I think it’s very, very dangerous.”
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has also waded into the debate as he told the pundit to stick to football.
He told the Mail: “I think when most people are tuning in to watch Gary Neville they want to hear about the football and watch the football. They don’t want to discuss politics.”
His official spokesman added that Neville’s comments were “clearly not legitimate or appropriate”.
Neville has refused to apologise for the rant, where he attacked the UK government for “demonising” striking nurses.
He slammed the World Cup host nation for its “abhorrent” treatment of workers, and said people should “detest poor accommodation and working conditions.”
He continued: “We can never accept that in this region or any other region and it is just worth mentioning that we’ve got a current government in our country that are demonizing rail workers, ambulance workers and terrifyingly nurses.
“We can’t have people being paid an absolute pittance to work, we can’t have people in accommodation that is unsavoury and disgusting. It shouldn’t happen here.
That should not happen here with the wealth that exists.
But it shouldn’t happen with the nurses in our country either where our nurses are having to fight for an extra pound or two pounds.
Despite his lecture over workers’ rights, several former employees have hit out at working conditions at his hotel.
Ex-staff at his Hotel Football in Manchester say they were “overworked and underappreciated”.
In a scathing review on job site Indeed, one worker said: “If you love being overworked and underappreciated then you’ve found you calling.
“Typically understaffed and overworked. Training is non existent.
Always work over my contracted hours and never get overtime pay, I was told to take time in lieu but that’s impossible when they are no staff to cover that.
Management only interested in turning a profit and don’t really care how they achieve this.
“I wouldn’t recommend working here right now as I know for a fact that most of the key staff are looking to move on due to the conditions.”
And while Neville hijacked ITV’s coverage to attack of poor working conditions, another former hotel staffer blasted his business as “greedy”.
“Senior management is more concerned about cutting costs rather than generating money, providing a good service and good working conditions,” they added.
Following the backlash to his speech, an Ofcom spokesman said: “We are assessing this content as a priority and have asked ITV to provide us with details about the broadcast to inform us that it works.”
An ITV spokesman said: “Gary Neville was expressing his own personal views in the context of a discussion about the treatment of workers in Qatar within a live broadcast. His views are his own and were not endorsed by ITV.”