Lineker to return to BBC’s Match of the Day after Twitter row
The hugely popular sports presenter had sparked a crisis at the public broadcaster after tweeting about UK asylum plans.
Gary Lineker will return as presenter of the flagship BBC football show, Match of the Day, the broadcaster has said, ending a crisis sparked by his criticism of the UK government’s new asylum policy.
“Gary is a valued part of the BBC and I know how much the BBC means to Gary, and I look forward to him presenting our coverage this coming weekend,” said BBC director-general Tim Davie on Monday.
He added that the sports presenter had agreed to abide by the broadcaster’s editorial guidelines until a review of its social media rules had been completed.
The former England footballer was removed after using Twitter to compare the language used to launch the new policy with the rhetoric of Nazi-era Germany.
Fellow presenters, pundits and commentators then refused to work over the weekend in support, throwing the broadcaster’s sports coverage into disarray.
Lineker tweeted on Monday: “I cannot wait to get back in the MOTD chair on Saturday.
“However difficult the last few days have been, it simply doesn’t compare to having to flee your home from persecution or war to seek refuge in a land far away.”
This 3 minute clip from 2021 is still being widely shared. It's helpful if you want to understand how Gary Lineker feels about the issue of refugees, about his relationship with the BBC – and about the idea of the BBC telling him what he can and can't tweet. pic.twitter.com/f5EWdx68tQ
— Ros Atkins (@BBCRosAtkins) March 12, 2023
Davie apologised for the disruption to the service, saying he recognised the “potential confusion caused by the grey areas of the BBC’s social media guidance”.
“Impartiality is important to the BBC. That is a difficult balancing act to get right where people are subject to different contracts and on air positions, and with different audience and social media profiles,” he said.
An independent review of the guidance will be conducted, including how it applies to freelancers such as Lineker, he added.