The BBC has said sports presenter Gary Lineker will return on air after the corporation agreed to review its social media guidelines to settle an escalating row over its impartiality.
They were forced to axe much of their sports coverage over the weekend after presenters, pundits and commentators refused to work in a show of solidarity with Lineker, who criticised the government’s immigration policy.
The publicly funded BBC had suspended Lineker for breaching its impartiality rules by comparing the rhetoric of Britain’s home secretary Suella Braverman to the language used in 1930s Germany.
It said on Monday it would hold a review over how presenters can use social media, including freelancers outside news and current affairs, such as Lineker, the former England football captain who presents flagship Premier League highlights programme Match of the Day.
Lineker tweeted as the news was released, thanking everyone for their support.
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. 1/4
— Gary Lineker 💙💛 (@GaryLineker) March 13, 2023
“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,” he said.
“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.”
BBC Director General Tim Davie said in a statement on Monday that Lineker was a valued part of the BBC. “I look forward to him presenting our coverage this coming weekend,” he said.
Lineker said: “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.”