BBC backtracks as ex-football star Gary Lineker returns to hosting duties

Soccer broadcaster Gary Lineker arrives ahead of the English Premier League soccer match between Leicester City and Chelsea, 11 March 2023
Soccer broadcaster Gary Lineker arrives ahead of the English Premier League soccer match between Leicester City and Chelsea, 11 March 2023 Copyright AP Photo
By Sudesh Baniya
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Gary Lineker will continue as the host of Match of the Day after the BBC reached an agreement with the presenter.

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Former England football star Gary Lineker will continue as the host of the BBC's flagship weekend football show Match of the Day, after the British public broadcaster reached an agreement with the presenter, putting an end to a "difficult weekend".

“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,” director general Tim Davie said in a statement. 

The move comes after an outcry as the former player, turned pundit, was forced to step down from presenting the BBC's flagship football show. Two other former football stars who were due to present alongside Lineker, Ian Wright and Alan Shearer, also refused to appear in solidarity. 

The dispute spread over the weekend with a number of high profile BBC sports presenters declining to work on broadcasts, severely disrupting the BBC's sports-heavy weekend schedule. 

Lineker's tweet criticised the government's new Illegal Migration bill, comparing the language used to launch the policy with that used in 1930s Germany. 

The BBC now says it will will also launch an independent review of its existing social media guidance. Lineker is in favour of such a review that specifically pertains to freelancers outside news and current affairs, the statement added. 

Meanwhile, the presenter says he will abide by the BBC's social media guidelines, introduced in 2020, while the review is in process.

The former England international said he was glad to have found a way forward and is expected to be back to present the FA Cup fixtures this weekend.

"I have been presenting sport on the BBC for almost 3 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," Lineker said.

The football pundit continued his support for asylum seekers, saying the difficult past couple of days "doesn’t compare to having to flee your home from persecution or war to seek refuge in a land far away."

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