Gary Lineker issues fresh statement on refugees as he hails BBC return
By Dan Falvey
Published: 13/03/2023- 10:31
Updated: 13/03/2023- 11:05
Gary Lineker praised the "heartwarming" public empathy for refugees as he spoke of his "delight" at returning to BBC screens.
The Match of the Day host said it had been a "surreal few days" after being suspended from the broadcaster for sharing his political views on Twitter.
The former England footballer was removed from presenting duties on Friday after comparing the Government's language on asylum seekers to Nazi Germany.
But the broadcaster backed down and apologised for “potential confusion caused by the grey areas” of its social media guidelines after a large number of high profile BBC contributors refused to appear on the channel in solidarity with Lineker.
In a statement about this return, Lineker said the "difficult last few days" were incomparable with the experiences of refugees.
He said on Twitter: "After a surreal few days, I’m delighted that we have navigated a way through this.
Gary Lineker said he was 'delighted' to be back on air
"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.
"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. I cannot wait to get back in the MOTD chair on Saturday.
"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."
His comments on refugees come as BBC Director-General Tim Davie said Lineker “will abide by the editorial guidelines” until a review of the BBC’s social media policy is complete.
The head of the broadcaster said that the 62-year-old had to be suspended not because of his views on refugees but for getting involved in party political matters.
In a statement today, Davie said: “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.”
BBC Director-General Tim Davie said a review of the social media guidelines was being launched
He added: “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.”