The BBC public service has reversed a very controversial decision: the broadcaster announced that former footballer Gary Lineker will return as presenter of the popular football show Match of the Day. "Gary is an important part of the BBC and I know what the BBC means to Gary," Director General Tim Davie said on Monday. He is looking forward to Lineker returning to host the popular Match of the Day show next weekend. "Match of the Day" can be roughly compared to the German "Sportschau".
Lineker had sharply criticized last week the new asylum law planned by the conservative British government. On the online service Twitter, the 62-year-old complained that the law used a vocabulary "not dissimilar to the language used in Germany in the 1930s". This statement had been heavily criticized by the government and conservative newspapers.
Public broadcaster BBC then said that Lineker would no longer host the popular football show Match Of The Day for violating impartiality guidelines until an agreement was reached with him "about his use of social networks". This announcement sparked massive protests, with several fellow presenters refusing to serve as a show of solidarity, resulting in sports broadcasts being disrupted.
Lineker tweeted Monday that he can't wait to return to the sports show's anchor chair on Saturday. "As difficult as the past few days have been, they cannot be compared to fleeing persecution or war from your homeland and seeking refuge in a country far away," he added.
BBC boss Davie apologized for the disruption to broadcasting and acknowledged "potential confusion" caused "by the gray areas in the BBC's guidelines" for online networks. "Impartiality is important to the BBC." Given the different contracts and tasks in the programs with different audiences and social media profiles, this is “a difficult balancing act”.
The guidelines should be independently reviewed, Davie announced. It will also be about their validity for freelancers like Lineker.