Gary Lineker is stepping back from Match of the Day hosting duties, the BBC confirm
| Last updated
Gary Lineker is stepping back from his role as Match of the Day host, the BBC have confirmed.
The former England and Spurs striker has hosted the highlights show regularly for a number of years now but will not be presenting the Saturday night programme until an agreement into his social media activity is reached.
It follows Lineker's Twitter comments on the government's new asylum policy. Home Secretary Suella Braverman announced plans to stop migrant boats crossing the English Channel and Lineker was extremely critical.
"Good heavens, this is beyond awful," Lineker wrote.
When a user said his comments were out of order, Lineker hit back and compared the language used to Nazi Germany.
He tweeted: “This is just an immeasurably cruel policy directed at the most vulnerable people in a language that is not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s, and I'm out of order?”
The post is still up and has not been deleted by Lineker, who also refused to apologise amid the backlash from Conservative MPs.
In response, the BBC stressed that the former Barcelona player should "keep well away from taking sides on party political issues or political controversies" as the row over impartiality and neutrality rages on.
In a statement, a BBC spokesperson said: "The BBC has been in extensive discussions with Gary and his team in recent days.
"We have said that we consider his recent social media activity to be a breach of our guidelines.
"The BBC has decided that he will step back from presenting Match of the Day until we've got an agreed and clear position on his use of social media.
"When it comes to leading our football and sports coverage, Gary is second to none. 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."
Lineker is a freelancer with the BBC and not a full-time employee. He had thanked fans for their support of late and said he was looking forward to putting the media storm behind him by hosting Match of the Day this weekend.
He posted: “Happy that this ridiculously out of proportion story seems to be abating and very much looking forward to presenting [Match of the Day] on Saturday. Thanks again for all your incredible support. It’s been overwhelming."
Well, it’s been an interesting couple of days. Happy that this ridiculously out of proportion story seems to be abating and very much looking forward to presenting @BBCMOTD on Saturday. Thanks again for all your incredible support. It’s been overwhelming.— Gary Lineker 💙💛 (@GaryLineker) March 9, 2023
There is no word on a replacement at the time of writing, though Mark Chapman, who presents Match of the Day 2 on Sunday, would appear to be the main contender.
The Illegal Migration Bill which Lineker has expressed his opinion about is to be debated in Parliament on Monday 13 March.