Former England football captain Gary Lineker will step back from his role at the BBC following his criticism of the country’s migration policy that has sparked a furious row between the government and the corporation’s highest paid presenter.
Lineker recently likened the government’s language on asylum seekers to that used by Germany in the 1930s.
The BBC said it had been in discussions with Lineker and his team in recent days and decided that he would step back from presenting its flagship Match of the Day programme “until we’ve got an agreed and clear position on his use of social media”.
Lineker has hosted Match of the Day for more than 20 years and the charismatic 62-year-old has never been afraid to voice his opinions about political issues.
The BBC said it considered Lineker’s recent social media activity to be a breach of its guidelines.
“We have never said that Gary should be an opinion free zone, or that he can’t have a view on issues that matter to him, but we have said that he should keep well away from taking sides on party political issues or political controversies,” it added.
Lineker, who has previously hosted refugees in his home, had retweeted a post featuring a video of interior minister Suella Braverman talking about a proposed new law, with the comment “Good heavens, this is beyond awful”.
When challenged by a respondent, he said: “There is no huge influx. We take far fewer refugees than other major European countries. This is just an immeasurably cruel policy directed at the most vulnerable people in language that is not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s, and I’m out of order?”
Late on Saturday, Arsenal legend Ian Wright, who is also a panelist on the Match of The Day, said he would not do this weekend’s show out of solidarity.
Everybody knows what Match of the Day means to me, but I’ve told the BBC I won’t be doing it tomorrow. Solidarity.
— Ian Wright (@IanWright0) March 10, 2023