BBC Football Commentator Gary Lineker Returns After Suspension
Former England football captain Gary Lineker returned to host the BBC’s flagship football show on Saturday, a week after his suspension for criticising government immigration policy caused a row over the broadcaster’s impartiality rules.
BBC managers reversed their decision to suspend Lineker, the broadcaster’s highest-paid presenter, after his colleagues refused to work in solidarity last weekend, forcing it to air football matches without normal commentary.
The controversy shook the public broadcaster, which is funded by a levy on nearly all British households with televisions, and which often faces accusations of bias from across the political spectrum.
“It was a really difficult situation for everyone concerned,” Lineker’s co-presenter Alan Shearer said in a short statement to viewers before the start of the BBC’s broadcast of an FA Cup quarter-final game between Burnley and Manchester City.
“And through no fault of their own, some really great people on TV and in radio were put in an impossible situation, and that wasn’t fair. So it’s good to get back to some sort of normality and be talking about football again,” Shearer said.
For those who missed it and are asking, I presented @BBCMOTD’s live FA Cup game earlier this evening. MOTD tonight was always going to be presented by the brilliant mark Chapman. It will have good replays so you can see what happened and understand penalty calls.
— Gary Lineker 💙💛 (@GaryLineker) March 18, 2023
Lineker, who has hosted refugees in his home, had been suspended on March 10 for a tweet that called government policy on migration “immeasurably cruel” and compared language used to support it to “that used by Germany in the 30s”.
- Read more: MOTD Host Gary Lineker Set For BBC Return
BBC news reporters and current affairs presenters are required to avoid making politically partisan statements, though those guidelines do not generally apply to other staff or to presenters on freelance contracts such as Lineker.
He refused to apologise for his tweet and the opposition Labour Party accused the broadcaster of caving in to government pressure by suspending him. After reinstating Lineker, the BBC said it would review how its impartiality guidelines applied to freelance presenters’ use of social media.