Gary Lineker receives apology, back to hosting BBC Sport

Gary Lineker has received an apology from the corporation and is back to hosting BBC Sports after the conflict between him and the media company was resolved.


The Match of the Day presenter was taken off air over his tweets criticising the government’s migration policy.

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Gary Lineker

On Friday, Lineker “stepped back” from his presenting duties and it is believed that several pundits also step away from BBC Sports programmes.

Following the incident, BBC director general Tim Davie apologised for the matter and this led to an independent review of its social media usage guidelines.

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Mr Davie said:

“Everyone recognises this has been a difficult period for staff, contributors, presenters and, most importantly, our audiences.

“I apologise for this.” The potential confusion caused by the grey areas of the BBC’s social media guidance that was introduced in 2020 is recognised. I want to get matters resolved and our sport content back on air.”

We are back to see Lineker on screen (BBC), Saturday hosting live coverage of the FA Cup quarter-final between Manchester City and Burnley.

It was a remarkable show of solidarity when pundits and commentators refused to work, this forced the BBC to cancel some sports shows and offer reduced coverage of its flagship Match of the Day programmes.

ALL this started when Lineker compared the language used to launch a new government asylum policy with 1930s Germany.

As reported by Sky News, Lineker had refused this wording and that the corporation had instead forced him off air as he was unwilling to apologise for the comments he had made.

Gary Lineker

The BBC’s statement in full

Director-General of the BBC, Tim Davie:

“Everyone recognises this has been a difficult period for staff, contributors, presenters and, most importantly, our audiences. I apologise for this.

“Impartiality is important to the BBC. It is also important to the public. The BBC has a commitment to impartiality in its Charter and a commitment to freedom of expression.

Tim Davie

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.

The BBC’s social media guidance is designed to help manage these sometimes difficult challenges and I am aware there is a need to ensure that the guidance is up to this task. It should be clear, proportionate, and appropriate.

“Accordingly, we are announcing a review led by an independent expert – reporting to the BBC – on its existing social media guidance, with a particular focus on how it applies to freelancers outside news and current affairs.

The BBC and myself are aware that Gary is in favour of such a review.

“Shortly, the BBC will announce who will conduct that review. Whilst this work is undertaken, the BBC’s current social media guidance remains in place.

“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.”

Lineker’s statement in full

Gary Lineker’s response, posted on Twitter:

“After a surreal few days, I’m delighted that we have navigated a way through this. I want to thank you all for the incredible support, particularly my colleagues at BBC Sport, for the remarkable show of solidarity. Football is a team game but their backing was overwhelming.

“I have been presenting sport on the BBC for almost three decades and am immeasurably proud to work with the best and fairest broadcaster in the world. I cannot wait to get back in the MOTD chair on Saturday.

“A final thought: 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. It’s heartwarming to have seen the empathy towards their plight from so many of you.

“We remain a country of predominantly tolerant, welcoming and generous people. Thank you.

“Also, I’d like to thank Tim Davie for his understanding during this difficult period. He has an almost impossible job keeping everybody happy, particularly in the area of impartiality. I am delighted that we’ll continue to fight the good fight, together.”

The BBC’s guidelines…

Gary Lineker signed a five-year deal with the BBC in 2020, under which he agreed to adhere to their updated impartiality rules.

The rules for news and current affairs journalists are very strict, with their personal accounts treated as if they are part of the BBC’s output.

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The BBC guidelines also state:

“There are also others who are not journalists or involved in factual programming who nevertheless have an additional responsibility to the BBC because of their profile on the BBC. We expect these individuals to avoid taking sides on party political issues or political controversies and to take care when addressing public policy matters.”


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