BBC reinstates ex-soccer star who likened MPs’ language on migrants to Nazi Germany
After colleagues refused to work, Gary Lineker returns as presenter of flagship show; says past few days were difficult, but it doesn’t compare to suffering of refugees
LONDON, United Kingdom — Gary Lineker will return as presenter of flagship BBC soccer show Match of the Day (MOTD), the broadcaster said Monday, 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.
The former England player was removed after using Twitter to compare the language used to launch the new policy to 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 that “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,” he added.
Davie apologized for the disruption to the service, saying he recognized the “potential confusion caused by the gray 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.