BBC director general Tim Davie says he wants recently suspended sports presenter and ex-football star Gary Lineker back on the airwaves. "Gary is an excellent TV journalist. To me, success means Gary is back on the air," Davie said in an interview with the broadcaster, according to a BBC report on Sunday. However, he did not explain how the dispute should be resolved. Everyone wanted to calmly resolve the situation, Davie said simply.
The BBC suspended Lineker on Friday for a tweet critical of the government. He had violated the neutrality guidelines of the broadcaster, it was said as a reason. Several of his colleagues, including pundits and ex-footballers Ian Wright and Alan Shearer, expressed solidarity with Lineker and refused to go on the air without him. The premier football show, Match of the Day, which Lineker has been the face of for more than 20 years, was broadcast without moderation, player interviews or expert opinions. In addition, several other programs on radio and television had to be canceled after numerous BBC colleagues joined the boycott.
Davie apologized for the limited football coverage. "It was a difficult day and I'm sorry that the audience was affected and didn't get their program. As a true sports fan I know it's a blow and I'm sorry," said Davie.
However, Davie did not want to apologize for Lineker's suspension. It's about finding the right balance between freedom of the press and neutrality, said the BBC boss responsible for editorial content. The former conservative politician emphasized that it is not about political directions. He ruled out resignation.
In a tweet on Tuesday, Lineker criticized the conservative British government's asylum policy and compared its rhetoric in connection with refugees with Nazi rhetoric from the 1930s.