Gary Lineker will step back from presenting Match of the Day until he can reach an agreement with the BBC over his use of social media.
The former England striker wrote a Tweet criticising the government’s asylum policy earlier this week, which has led to criticism from a number of politicians.
In a statement released this evening, the BBC 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.”
The corporation has very strict guidelines on how staff should use social media, which have been in force since 2020. That includes “maintaining your impartiality” and not expressing a personal opinion “on matters of public policy, politics or “controversial subjects.” However Lineker is contracted, rather than employed.
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
Since the Tweet, as well as being criticised, Lineker has received support from both sides of the fence, including Piers Morgan and former Guardian editor, Alan Rusbridger.