Gary Lineker jokes he’s had a ‘quiet week’ as he pays tribute to friends and BBC colleagues

  • Gary Lineker returns to Match of the Day after being suspended by the BBC last week
  • The 62-year-old says he has had an “interesting” and also “hugely gratifying” week
  • Lineker also described support from BBC colleagues and friends as ‘nice’

Gary Lineker has described the past week – during which he was withdrawn from presenting Match of the Day before being reinstated days later – as ‘interesting’ and ‘satisfying’.

Lineker will return on Saturday to present Match of the Day, having initially been suspended in an impartial row following anti-Tory tweets that equalized the government’s crackdown on small boat migrants to Germany in the 1930s.

The suspension resulted in commentators and pundits withdrawing in solidarity from the famous football highlights program, which lasted just 20 minutes without discussion in the absence of Lineker.

Faced with calls to resign, BBC director-general Tim Davie apologized to staff, presenters, viewers and listeners after sports coverage was decimated over the weekend.

Joking about his ‘silent week’ live on air ahead of Barcelona’s derby match against Real Madrid, Lineker paid tribute to his BBC colleagues and friends for their support before describing the spat as ‘disproportionate’.

Gary Lineker (right) addressed his feud with the BBC live on Viaplay on Friday night
Lineker says he’s had an ‘interesting’ and hugely ‘satisfying’ week following the BBC spat
Match of the Day lasted just 20 minutes last Saturday without any knowledge or comment, with Lineker resigning and many of his BBC colleagues choosing to strike in solidarity

“Very quiet, not much is happening,” Lineker joked when asked how his week had gone via play.

“Yeah, you could say it’s been an interesting week, but I’m still here, still hitting.

“It was interesting and also immensely satisfying. I had incredible support from my friends and colleagues, which was actually really nice.

“It was totally disproportionate, but we’re fine. It is solved. I have to go back to work tomorrow and all is well with the world.’

Davie insisted that there will be a review of the broadcaster’s impartiality policy in the aftermath of the row and that Lineker will adhere to the guidelines in the process.

In a statement, the director-general said: ‘Everyone recognizes that this has been a difficult period for the staff, collaborators, presenters and, most importantly, our audience.

‘My apologies. The potential confusion caused by the gray areas of the BBC’s social media guidelines introduced in 2020 is acknowledged. I want things resolved and our sports content back on the air.

Impartiality is important to the BBC. It is also important to the public. The BBC has a commitment to impartiality and a commitment to freedom of expression in its charter. That’s a tough balancing act to get right where people are subject to different contracts and on air positions, and with different audiences and social media profiles.

BBC director-general Tim Davie backed down and asked Lineker to return amid fierce backlash

‘The BBC’s social media guidelines are designed to meet these sometimes difficult challenges and I am aware there is a need to ensure guidance is up to the task. It must be clear, proportionate and appropriate.’

Lineker’s two trusted side-kicks on Match of the Day, Ian Wright and Alan Shearer, began a wider boycott, including commentators, which management enforced.

Football Focus and Final Score were axed last Saturday, while BBC radio output and Match of the Day 2 were also affected.

Alex Scott and Mark Chapman were among the presenters who retired from shows.

Both Wright and Shearer featured on Sunday’s television coverage of Fulham vs Arsenal in the Premier League.

Ian Wright was the first person to withdraw from Match of the Day in support of Gary Lineker
Alan Shearer, center, and Wright, right, face no punishment for their boycott

Sports mail understands that those who walked out to support Lineker will not take action from BBC bosses.

Lineker said on Monday he ‘can’t wait’ to be back on the BBC this weekend but has been defiant despite the criticism, suggesting some of his detractors are bigoted.

He tweeted: “As difficult as the past few days have been, it simply cannot be compared to having to flee your home from persecution or war to seek refuge in a land far away.

“It is heartwarming to see the empathy of so many of you for their plight. We remain a country of mostly tolerant, hospitable and generous people. Thank you’.

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