Gary Lineker is set to soon return to host BBC’s Match of the Day. The former Leicester City, Barcelona, and Tottenham Hotspur star was previously removed from the show for comments about the British government.
The presenter essentially criticized UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s views on the asylum policy. Lineker has also been vocal about his support for refugees on his personal Twitter account. However, BBC announced that they had suspended the host last week. The British news network also stated that they will talk to Lineker about his public political opinions as well.
Lineker’s colleagues also refused to do the show without their main presenter. Former Premier League superstars Alan Shearer and Ian Wright both informed BBC that they would also be taking the week off in solidarity with Lineker. Viewers and fans widely praised the two for their decision.
Lineker return to Match of the Day met with mixed reactions
Nevertheless, BBC has opted to bring Lineker back to the show. Sunak claimed to be “pleased” upon hearing the news of Lineker’s return. The Prime Minister also expressed relief that the two parties settled the ordeal.
Other UK political figures, however, were not as thrilled with the move. Philip Davies, a Tory backbench MP, lambasted the decision to bring back Lineker so quickly.
“This pathetic capitulation by the BBC is the start of the end for the license fee,” proclaimed Davies. “‘The BBC can no longer credibly claim that it believes in political impartiality and, more importantly, it has proved that it doesn’t have the stomach to enforce it. It is now a free for all at the BBC.”
Former striker currently a freelancer for BBC
Lineker has hosted Match of the Day since 1999 and is the network’s highest-paid personality. Despite this, the network employs him as a freelancer. Officially, BBC expects impartiality from employees on political matters. However, there is debate on how employees outside of the news can conduct their political affairs.
Lineker’s return to the show is on Saturday, March 18. His first appearance back on the network will be for the FA Cup match between Manchester City and Burnley. Former City captain Vincent Kompany is returning to Manchester as Burnley head coach.
PHOTO: IMAGO / PA Images
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