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Gary Lineker speaks for first time as BBC issues statement with return announced and apology made

Gary Lineker speaks for first time as the BBC issues a statement with his return announced and an apology made ahead of the FA Cup action.

After being reported as having “stepped back”, he is expected to resume hosting BBC sport coverage.

Lineker denied this assertion and explained that the corporation had required him to leave because he wouldn’t apologise for his remarks.

Lineker became embroiled in controversy over impartiality when he compared the language used to launch a new government’s asylum policy to that of 1930s Germany.

BBC Sport saw pundits step away in solidarity, with last week’s MOTD and MOTD2 combined for just 35 minutes in length.

Alan Shearer and Ian Wright announced they would not appear on Match of the Day.

Additionally, several commentators, ex-footballers, and presenters decided against participating in BBC’s weekend shows.

SEE MORE: BBC fallout sees pundits, commentators and players boycott MOTD in support of Gary Lineker


Statement from 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. 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.

“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. 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.”

Statement from Gary Lineker:

“I am glad that we have found a way forward. I support this review and look forward to getting back on air.”

This is what social media users said as Gary Lineker speaks for the first time and the BBC issues a statement with a return announced and apology made…

@Greg26032553: Well done Gary. Keep speaking up for those with no voice. Look forward to MOTD next weekend.

@JulieKissick1: After BBC scoring an own goal & red carding itself, the team is back together & surely the reputation of @BBCSport staff & freelancers enhanced by show of solidarity Now say 🙏 for all those poor souls who have to organise, deliver & endure yet more compulsory training #Lineker

@dave43law: Congratulations for sticking to your guns and for maintaining the right to speak out on issues particularly the inhumane approach to migrants of this Government. Respect to the Wrighty, Shearer, Alex Scott and all others who stood with you. THANKYOU ALL

@wenders123: Congratulations to you and the colleagues who supported you, without whom I’m not sure we’d have seen this seismic outcome. Looking forward to the FA Cup coverage #GaryLineker

@CathalRobinson: Lineker won and rightly so, big mistake by the BBC to suspend him

@mghfoster: Standing up for the values of a modern, progressive country takes backbone. Refugees are not political punching bags but vulnerable people we have a duty to help. Thanks @GaryLineker for your principled stance. Sport and politics will always be entwined. #motd


@Boro_Brick_Road: Congratulations @GaryLineker held firm, responded professionally without compromising your beliefs – great to have you back and even better that you have not & will not be censored 👏 #IStandWithGaryLineker

@WoodAbout: Thank you Gary! You have been exemplary throughout this circus. You have truly, truly put yourself out in the firing line for others in very different circumstances and I’m so glad you got the support that you deserve. WEll done mate. Let’s hope this is a turning point.

@andrew_patey: Well done Gary for not giving in.

@northernscum07: And rightly so… whether you agree with what he said or not, it’s about consistency and we have enough examples of people who did the same with no consequences so he was clearly singled out.

@M4RK54V1N: So glad that the pressure from the @MotdBBC pundits and the viewers made @BBC back track and apologise to you. Looking forward to seeing you on the TV for the FA Cup ties that are being shown by the beeb

@legalclaret: Delighted a sensible resolution has been achieved. More delighted this utter nonsense will not dominate the news any more. Even more delighted at the handful of MPs and commentators who will be upset by this.

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