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BBC says Lineker to return to football show, abide by guidelines

The hugely popular sports presenter sparked a public broadcaster crisis after tweeting about British asylum plans.

Gary Lineker will return as the presenter of flagship BBC football show Match of the Day, the broadcaster said on Monday, ending a crisis sparked by his criticism of the UK government’s new asylum policy.

“Gary is a valued part of the BBC and I know how much the BBC means to Gary and I look forward to him presenting our coverage over the weekend,” said BBC Director General Tim Davie.

He added that the sports presenter had agreed to abide by the broadcaster’s editorial guidelines until a review of social media rules was completed.

The former England footballer was removed after using Twitter to compare the language used to launch the new policy to the rhetoric of Nazi Germany.

Fellow presenters, pundits and commentators subsequently refused to work in support over the weekend, leaving the broadcaster’s sports coverage in disarray.

Lineker tweeted Monday: “Can’t wait to get back in the MOTD seat on Saturday.

“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.”

Davie apologized for the disruption to the service, saying he recognized the “potential confusion caused by the gray areas of the BBC’s social media guidelines.

“Impartiality is important to the BBC. 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,” he said.

An independent review of the guidelines will be conducted, including how it applies to freelancers like Lineker, he added.