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Gary Lineker announces return to Match of the Day after BBC row

The presenter will host the show on Saturday

gary lineker on match day© Photo: BBC
Nicky Morris
TV and film writer
March 13, 2023
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Gary Lineker is set to return to Match of the Day after he was taken off the air over his tweets criticising the government's illegal immigration policy. 

The BBC has released a statement apologising for the episode and has announced an independent review into its social media guidance. 

Taking to Twitter, the former football player wrote: "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.

Gary Lineker on Match of the Day© Photo: BBC

Gary Lineker will return to Match of the Day

"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," he continued.

Director-General of the BBC, Tim Davie, issued an apology, acknowledging that it had been a "difficult period for staff, contributors, presenters and, most importantly, our audiences". 

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"The potential confusion caused by the grey areas of the BBC’s social media guidance that was introduced in 2020 is recognised," he said in a statement. "I want to get matters resolved and our sport content back on air.

Gary Lineker hosting Match of the Day© Photo: BBC

The BBC has apologised for the chaos caused by 'grey areas' in its social media guidance

"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," he continued, before announcing an independent review into the BBC's "existing social media guidance, with a particular focus on how it applies to freelancers outside news and current affairs."

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The announcement follows the collapse of the BBC's sports coverage over the weekend after its presenters and commentators refused to go on air in solidarity with Lineker.

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